Saturday, 12 February 2011

Truth? You're not serious are you?

Truth, we’re all concerned with it aren’t we? Are we?

We might not all sit around for hours on end wondering about the nature of truth and the meaning of life but we all live according to the conclusions we draw from the world around us. We listen to the music, we watch the movies and we enjoy the TV shows that most reflect what we believe about the world (the value systems we agree with) and we hang around with people who have a like mind to ours. ‘Truth’ is a grand word that we don’t use too much, it sounds far too unreachable and ever so slightly arrogant, who are we after all, to say what’s true and what’s not? A few years ago a popular band released an album called ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’. It got to #1 in the charts. I like the title, it’s catchy and I can relate to it. I don’t like being preached at any more than you do but I can appreciate someone elses version of the truth, I like a good discussion every now and then.

I wonder what you think when someone says the word ‘God’ around you. What kind of response does it provoke in you? Anger? Guilt? Boredom? Interest? What about the word ‘church’? Or ‘Jesus’? These are all words that are loaded with opinion and people's reactions range hugely.

I wonder also how you’d answer the question ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ What would be in your top 5? Would religion? We’ve all seen the horrors of what can happen when religious people get hold of something that they believe to be ‘the truth’ and then use it to justify all kinds of horrible things from blowing themselves (and others) up to waving banners that read ‘God hates… insert here

My guess is that that’s why we don’t talk too much about ‘truth’ it’s too easy to make enemies without even trying. If we’re honest I think that most of us want to just keep our heads down and have fun/make money/get married/all three.

What if there is more to life than simply what we make of it? What if there is a bigger, higher purpose and plan for our lives? What if truth as something obvjective and outside of ourselves actually existed? Wouldn’t you hate to get to the end of your life and find that you missed it? It’d be like Frodo arriving at the Crack of Doom only to realise he’d left the ring at home in the shire on his bed side table – oops, you can’t go back now!

For what it’s worth, here’s my truth, the one that works for me and makes life make sense.

Consider this:

The reason you have a longing for meaning and significance and the reason you have a desire for love and adventure is because God wired you that way. In the same way that hunger can be satisfied by food, thirst by water and tiredness by sleep, so these desires can be satisfied by God.

It would be a cruel world if there was nothing in it to remove my hunger. Imagine a world where no amount of food took away your hunger pains and yet that’s how some people seem to see the world. We all have these deep desires in our heart and nothing it seems can ever fully satisfy or quench them. That’s a cruel existence. We try to stuff ourselves with as much as we can hoping that something will stick, something will make us feel complete. We so often go from relationship to relationship (maybe this boyfriend’s the one, or this one, or this one…), or from gadget to gadget, from job to job, from one pay day to the next never fully experiencing the kind of peace and excitement that we want.

Jesus’ life & death are recorded for us in the Bible, a remarkably accurate and historically verifiable book, and in it he is recorded as saying to a group of people just like us: ‘if anyone is thirsty, or heavy burdened and in need of rest, come to me.’

In fact it’s been said before that as a species we are always restless until we find our rest in God and my own experience has shown me that that’s true.

The Christian faith is good news. It’s not good advice on how to live your life but it’s good news that changes the way you live you life. The news is this ‘Jesus has come to rescue you, God is passionate about you, he isn’t angry with you, he doesn’t expect you to climb a ladder of good behaviour and brownie points, he’s come down to meet you.’

Jesus forgives you and Jesus can transform you. Jesus can equip you for a life full of satisfaction, delight and hope for the age to come.

I’ve found this to be true, having tried and tested the claims of Christianity and having seen and experienced things that are, quite simply, inexplicable without what Jesus said being true.

That's my truth, tell me yours.

Friday, 4 February 2011

More than matter?

I'm not afraid of evolution, I just don't want to be there when it happens.

I'm not sure how 'fit' I am for survival, I'm not sure how fit many of us are. That's the trouble with being at the top of the food chain in affluent, comfortable-class Britain, we've got flabby. I can't run very fast (except around a squash court once a week and even then I'm close to exhaustion), I have no idea how to skin an animal and I am largely a walking DIY disaster. I'm hardly ruthless (unless I'm playing monopoly) and would be useless at using my malice to manoeuvre myself into survival if ever I needed to. No it's true, the process of de-volution has begun and I'm the evidence of it. The only question is - who will replace us as the dominant species... the jellyfish?

There are a couple of things however that I've been considering recently when it comes to the whole area of evolution. You see for many people evolution is the Grand Theory of Everything it explains, well, everything. Everything about who we are, why we're here, how the planet works etc. and it answers all of our big questions like 'what's the meaning of life?' (Survival and procreation) and 'is there a God?' (highly unlikely).

The thing that bothers me about all this is this:

- Why are we concerned even with asking the question 'is there a God?' and more specifically 'Does my life have some greater meaning than this?'

Why ask it? Why does it matter? Richard Dawkins and co. would possibly say that religious belief helped our ancestors survive and so is the reason why we feel drawn to it, survival. Is religious belief genetic? Surely it isn't belief that helped our ancestors but the practices that those beliefs inspired. Surely its our hardwired systems of survival that made room for our conquering of the planet and not our quaint and rather naive belief in a god or gods. My question is, since we are now top of the world and since we live in a country with central heating and indoor plumbing why do we still cling to notions of purpose and meaning? Why do ideas like 'destiny' excite us? Why are people even interested in the question 'is there a God?'. Just survive, recreate and be done with it.

Watching Glee last week (I know, and I sorry) I was surprised to see Sue Sylvester upset by her lack of faith in God. She was adamant that there isn't a God and yet she was sad that she felt like this, her own atheism was a cause of distress for her. My own perception is that when people say things like this it is often accompanied by a degree of sadness or apology as though they were somehow a bad person for thinking what they do.

But why? Why care? What's the big deal? You have money, a car, friends and family, career prospects, a good life expectancy - why do you even ask questions like 'is there more to life than this?' Where does your sense of some higher and more noble purpose to life come from? We live in a secular country, taught secular creeds and instructed that 'God' and 'purpose' are so often refined to the narrow and rather strange Glee club that is 'Religious People'. We don't have any need for it.

But we do. We ask and we wonder. We often sense that our life is meant for more than what we're doing with it. We value compassion and acts of compassion. We think it's worthwhile to speak out for those in need, to stand up against acts of injustice, but why? Surely the bias of our genetics is survival and thinking of no. 1? We feel a sense of connection to people from another nation, another tribe and another country living half the world away. We feel a sense of duty beyond our genetic make-up, we adhere to some moral law, a sense of honour and design, we believe in the dignity of every human life not just the strong ones. Why? Why this desire for transcendence? Why this sense of purpose? Why do we insist on life having meaning and ourselves having a purpose beyond that of furthering the advancement of our family/nation?

I'm sure that for those who ascribe to evolution as the Grand Theory of Everything, there are perfectly reasonable genetic answers to these questions, and I know I've overstated my case to make a point. For me looking on at the world, at the way we live and the things we fill our lives with I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe we were made with meaning in mind.

Maybe we are more than matter after all.