Some of my closest friends do not subscribe to the faith. But these are the people that constantly remind me of the difference between being merely religious, and being truly Christian. Because while they may not be Christian in their beliefs, they are more Christian in their character, values and behavior than many of us who profess to be Christians.
I begin with this point because I wish to make it clear from the outset that I think that whether someone is a good person is not dependent on whether he is Christian. Rather, I think that it is whether someone is Christian that is dependent on whether he is a good person. And with that, I begin my sharing.
I had a chat with one of these close friends a few nights ago. I asked him 2 questions (in a really roundabout way):
(1) Does he feel like he’s missing anything (even with a girlfriend, a nice family, talents, excellence)?
(2). Why is he so nice?
To (1), he replied ‘no’. Which was to be expected, for he hardly seems like a person who is restless or frustrated. He’s one of the most integrated persons that I know, which is why I don’t think that he is lying to himself.
To (2), he gave an account of a small ego and a morality based on living a good life, which includes making others to be happy – or essentially, humility and giving of self.
Both answers disturbed me.
One of the greatest appeals to my heart of the faith is that God fills. He fills the emptiness, the loneliness, the restlessness. In Him I find refuge. My soul is restless till it rests in Him. But here is someone who has no need or desire to be filled because he isn’t missing anything. I’ve already ruled out self-deception. And I’m too far down my own conviction and faith journey to consider that God does not exist (though the mere fact that I can write this presupposes that the possibility does float up in my mind every now and then). The only conclusion left then is that God didn’t grant him the desire for Him. Which, at once, hardly seems plausible. To believe that God created us is to believe that we are created for God i.e. the desire to be united to God is integral to being a human person. What, then, are we left with? And why doesn’t God do anything about it?
For (2), we must understand that humility and giving of self are essentially Christian virtues. Historically and culturally, there is no other source of this idea of enlarging one’s concept of self to the point that it includes a stranger or even an enemy, such that one’s subjective self-interest can be sacrificed for the objective good of another. The true genesis of the idea of charity, of which the virtues of humility and giving of self are fruits, only came about because Jesus gave his life on the cross.
So the essential question then is: how can someone who does not know Christ have such Christian values? There are possible explanations of course e.g. the good that Christians do affect others too. But then the next more pertinent question is: what then is the role of the transformative power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, if a person can be so good and so integrated without them?
In short, when you take (1) and (2) together, there is a simple conclusion – he doesn’t need God. To skew that to a more subjective point of view, he doesn’t think that he needs God, nor does he look like he needs God. And that, regardless of whether I take it objectively or subjectively, is disturbing.
i’m not actly having a faith crisis. at least i dont think i am. i hope it’s not even e beginning of one. but i do think e answers tt i find in my journey will lead me deeper. so yes. i wait w expectant faith upon e wisdom of e Lord.