It is clear from the opening lines of Psalm 2 that some people would be overjoyed to live in a world without faith. We read, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
“Faith,” such people claim, “is oppressive and one of the many root causes for all the suffering in this world.”
Of course, technically speaking, no one is without faith. Everybody believes in something, but what is meant here is faith in ‘God’; more specifically, the God of the Bible, who the Bible itself calls love. *
But what does a world look like that has cast away the cords of God?
In such a world ‘self’ will be central. It can’t be any other way. If we can’t rely on God, we will have to rely on ourselves. Therefore, a world without faith is a world that is all about self-preservation. It’s the cold world of the survival of the fittest and a world where weakness is despised and feared and where revenge is seen as normal and even smart. It’s a world that is built on man’s goodness where self-righteousness is king.
Man is not good.
I had a conversation with a young saleswoman who was talking to me about her marriage problems. Since she and her husband had no faith in God and as such were not bound by God’s standard of forgiveness and love, they had no secure compass that could guide them to the safe harbor of a happy marriage.
“I know it’s not good,” she sighed, “but whenever he does something mean, I do spiteful things back to him.” There appeared a gleeful smile on her hardened face. “You know, I do things to him that he never even knows about, just to spite him. When he’s not nice to me, it’s payback time.”
I asked her if she thought that revenge was truly the best solution and her answer surprised me. “Probably not, but it feels great to have revenge and to get even. It makes me happy to see him confused and frustrated.”
Excuse me? Did I hear her correctly?
How can there be joy in seeing somebody else suffer? How can revenge be good?
I asked her if she believed in God.
“Faith in God; Hell, no… I don’t believe. What does God have to do with it?”
I sadly realized that this young woman had a different worldview and it wasn’t mine. She saw her life and its troubles through different glasses.
Her moral compass was leading her to strange and far away oceans, where I have no business sailing. A life without faith is doomed to crash on the rocks in some unknown ocean far away from the safe shores of eternity.
But in a world with faith it is an entirely different experience.
In such a world, self is no longer the centre. There, God is the centre. And God calls us to resist those things that go against His moral compass. He calls us to deny ourselves. Not in the sense that we should be stuffy and serious and never enjoy the pleasures of life, but He wants us to deny ourselves the luxury of selfishness.
He calls us to a world where revenge is despised, where forgiveness is central and where love and kindness are seen as normal and smart.
God’s way versus man’s way; God against the world. How opposite they are. Never the twain shall meet.
It reminds me of the well-known anecdote about Heaven and Hell. Hell was filled with dinner tables, laden with the finest culinary dishes. When it was time to eat, all the inhabitants of Hell were given a huge long spoon. Everyone greedily preyed upon the food, but the spoon was so long and unwieldy that it simply couldn’t reach their greedy mouths, so nobody got anything to eat.
Heaven too was filled with beautiful tables and luscious dishes. The same long spoons were given to the citizens of that happy place. Everyone ate peacefully to their heart’s content. How come? They used the spoons to feed each other.
I offered to pray for the young woman with her marriage problems, but she declined.
“Nah…we can handle it ourselves.”
God’s way versus man’s way. Where is your compass leading you?
*1 John 4:8