Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Discussing Faith

 I had an interesting conversation the other day with a gentleman who professes no belief in God. I'm not certain just how he classifies himself. There are several terms for this among them Atheists ,Agnostics and Humanists. I do know that he requires empirical evidence. We just chatted, bantered really, about the subject of God and the existence or non existence of hell. I assured him my faith  was unshakable but didn't mind discussion at all. It is in these discussions that I find out about my own thoughts. I pointed out to him that I felt like the Bible instructed me to go out and testify about God and Christ. On the same token, I don't feel compelled to forcibly convert anyone. I do not think that was the intended message. The old phrase don't shoot the messenger also applies to the receiver of that message ! If they choose not to receive the message don't burn their house down. As I explained to this gentlemen, faith requires no proof, only belief. I can give you the message, testify to its' validity, but believing is solely up to you. I can not make you believe anything. It is true I may force you to acquiesce by constant badgering or threat of violence, but that isn't belief.
 Something I see happen is people begin to idolize the messenger and not understand the message. It is a fine thing to look up and admire an individual for their knowledge and/or wisdom. They may have both but not necessarily. This happens with entire congregations ! The followers begin to follow the messenger and not the one who sent the message. Sadly, in time the real message gets lost. A message of intolerance may develop, so certain does the congregation become of their own righteousness. The congregation takes the words of the messenger as words of truth and acts accordingly. There are instances where this behavior ended up running contrary to the real message.
 The issues arise when those that truly believe begin to force that belief upon others. That is why the separation of church and state is so important in our government. No laws shall be made to impose religious belief or practice upon anyone. Some would argue that is has occurred. Typical examples were the so called " blue laws " throughout the various counties and states. I argue that they were not laws but regional ordinances. At the very least they were never a federal law. The separation of church and state (federal government ) was never breached. Regionally restrictions upon commerce may have been imposed on Sundays and other non-religious holidays. I don't believe it intended to force anyone to go to church or believe anything. What it was was a declaration of what was considered proper behavior. Yes, it was based upon the traditional idea of the Sabbath day.                
Remember this was in a time when professing Christian belief was not just an accepted thing, it was an expected thing. Commerce won out in the end, not because the precept of honoring the Sabbath day was wrong, but because there was money to be made. It really is that simple. The argument was that their ( the business owners ) rights were being denied. Legally I can see their point and have no valid legal defense against it. Personally I think it was a fine idea and did raise awareness. Children would often ask about these restrictions. In my case it was explained that Sunday was a time for the Lord. Call it a veiled threat if you like, but I was lead to believe that God wouldn't be too happy with those violating the Sabbath. The message I received was, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco wasn't a good thing, give it a rest ! If only until one o'clock on Sunday afternoon, just give it a rest.
 These were the type of things we discussed. Understanding begins with discussion. Tolerance too, begins with discussion. The imposition of your will upon others is not conducive to dialogue. Just telling others that you are right and they are wrong isn't discussing. It must begin with listening. Listen to what they are saying and counter that with your own thoughts. Do not rely upon the words or thoughts of others. Quoting the Bible, the word of God, does little good if the person doesn't believe the book. The call to testify, to tell the truth as you perceive it, does not include threats. It is simply a statement of what you believe to be fact. Facts require proof, faith does not. Faith requires only belief to exist. That is the discussion isn't it ? Faith. Do you believe ? Nothing to do with facts, just belief.