The Battle For Hope
The Church of Jesus Christ must give hope to a lost world.
…having no hope, and without God in the world:
There are possibly three positions to take on God.
- Atheism: Faith that there is no God because to state this in the absolute requires a knowledge of all things and no man possesses this.
- Agnosticism: Probably the only truly intellectual answer to the question of whether there is a God. It requires no faith whatsoever.
- Theism: Faith that there is a supreme being who created all things. Since no man has seen God it requires faith.
It is said a picture is worth a thousand words so let me start by showing you this photo.
This Pulitzer Prize photo was taken of a famine in Sudan by photographer Kevin Carter. It is of a child dying of starvation while a vulture waits for death. I know this stirs up many questions about life and God. I have personally been told by people that they could not believe in a God who would let this happen. I understand that thought and in my human mind feel the same way to a point. However, like many things is life one needs to sort out our emotions and come to some rational reasoning. Saying one does not believe in God does not solve this young child’s problem. If we want to make a difference we need answers.
The battle that a Christian faces is not against flesh and blood. It is against the powers of darkness—those forces that cause these horrible things to take place. I would like to say that those who promote atheism are the enemies of hope. The agnostic is a lukewarm player in the world, but the atheist is the enemy of all of life. How can I say this? There are four questions that must be answered by every sincere person.
- Where did we/I come from?
- Why are we/I here?
- What is our/my morality?
- Where will we/I go when we/I die?
The atheist has no real answers for question one, which leads to the real problem and that is in question two. Why are we here or what meaning does life have. Here is a common statement by an atheist.
I have no crisis of meaning. A secular worldview doesn’t result in meaninglessness. My life has whatever meaning I attribute to it, and this would be true whether a god existed or not. Value is the result of desire and while he’d like to dismiss our “selfish interests, pleasures, or tastes” as negatives, that’s not the case. Our selfish interests can result in benefit or harm, all with respect to the things we value. He dismisses the very foundations of meaning in order to claim there is no meaning… that doesn’t sound like the “honest conversation” I’m looking for.
If one reads and thinks about this carefully in the light of this child starving you see the outright selfishness of this thinking. Why do I say this? Only those who have an opportunity to pursue desires can feel this way. If life’s meaning only comes from “selfish interest, pleasures, or tastes”; then this child can never and will never have any meaning in life. You see these even further demonstrated in this quote from the same source.
The broader, implied argument is that one should believe in a god because it’ll prevent you from feeling as though your life has no meaning. This is not an argument for the existence of a god; it’s an argument for belief which has no dependency on the object of that belief being true. It’s like arguing that one should believe that they’re holding a winning lottery ticket if it makes them happy.
problem, of course, is that our beliefs inform our actions and our actions have consequences for ourselves and others. The person who sincerely believes that they hold a winning lottery ticket may well take actions that prove devastating when they discover they actually don’t have a winning ticket.
In a world that seems so unfair, so cruel, where do we get hope? The atheist is so self-centered that his rational leaves no hope for those who cannot pursue pleasure. We as Christians must not let this evil teaching reach the ears of those without hope. We do not even have to imagine a place like Sudan. There are children in our cities that are neglected because their parents are drugged up or missing. There are many people around us without hope because they lack the means to pursue pleasure.
What is the answer? The agnostic cannot give one because he does not know! Only the Christain can give hope for he knows the One who is “…the way, the truth, and the life…” I know people blame God for the starving children so how could God be the hope of mankind? It rests upon a simple premise, and that is whose fault is the evil in this world; God or man? I know the thought that God is almighty, therefore, this should never happen. That is raw emotions, but rational of what we know says otherwise.
What we know is that we want free will. We do not want to be robots who simply respond with prompt and not with thoughtfulness and love. While we love this idea we also want to avoid any consequences of our actions. Taking this and overlaying it with parenthood we can see the problem. We want our children to be individuals who respond to us out of their own will, and in doing so we give them choices. As good parents, we can teach right from wrong, but being free will agents they must choose for themselves and suffer the consequences. If we allow our children to do wrong towards others we fail at being good and just parents. So if God allows us free will He must allow consequences.
It was not this child’s free will that caused this problem, but it was the consequences of evil men. All things that go wrong, even birth defects are the consequences of sin on the human race. If we believe otherwise we make God the author of evil. So where does this leave us?
Jesus taught us in Luke chapter sixteen about a rich man and Lazarus. The point of this is exactly what I have been trying to say all along. The Pharisees found meaning to their life in their religious living, however, there was a poor man named Lazarus, who had nothing. The reality is we will never make this world fair no matter how hard we try, and we should. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. The only hope for Lazarus or this starving child is a just God who has more in store than this life waiting for those who trust in him. Think about this atheist’s illustration about the lottery ticket. I would like someone to believe they may have a ticket that gives them eternal life than tell them they have been ripped off by life, and too bad for them while I eat at my table of plenty.
So in conclusion, those who choose to deny God will face the consequences of their actions, not just on that fact, but the fact they have attempted to destroy hope for the less fortunate. They shall receive their desires in death without God to the fullest. Meaning the things God has provided in this life for pleasure will be taken away.
It is the responsibility of Christians to tell all mankind that if they turn from sin they too can experience abundant life in the world to come.