This question is, in one sense, a very dry one. It’s like asking, do you believe that there is a place called Hawaii? – when you, like me, may not have been there. It is a skeleton-like one – with little emotion in it. It is far richer, when it is put this way. Do you believe in a God, who is all loving, all good, all-powerful, and all wise? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it is made, and has to be, in humility and in a spirit of adoration. A negative answer is the shutting out of a vast amount – the whole spiritual world.
Belief in such an immense God, the Almighty, is more striking for us, when we recognise that he has made known so much about himself, and when we listen to him. But he also makes clear to us how totally we depend on him – even for our very existence. We are completely in his hand – whether we accept this or not. He has outlined the way of life that we ought to embark on – how we should conduct ourselves in all situations and what demands are made on us. However, the path set out for us is not easy. Due to something having gone wrong at the beginning of the human race, there is reluctance in all to obey what the Almighty wants. True and upright living is a struggle.
Have We A Choice?
Many feel that they are free to believe in God or not. They regard this as a purely personal decision for themselves. Yet, if actually they are owned by the Almighty and are totally under his control, how can they in any way be independent of him? The more an individual thinks about this, the more pressing it is to recognise that there is no scope for not consenting to what is there – the reality of God.
Life No Guarantee
If we look at the lives of people, we don’t find any clear proof that God exists – since we come across those who firmly believe in the Creator, and others who don’t. If we ask which group are the happier, we really cannot assess this. Yet one thing seems to be true and evident: those with faith can face adverse circumstances better than those without it! They find in themselves an inner strength that the others lack. But people are, to a large extent, concerned with their daily existence.
Living without God is regarded, in the Bible, as being in darkness. However, Christ has changed all this: ‘He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son’ (Col 1. The recent encyclical, The Light of Faith , begins by seeing faith as a light. It quotes Jesus as saying: ‘I have come into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness’ (Jn 12.46). He must be seen as all light. When we are confused and find ourselves in any kind of darkness, we need to look towards his brightness. Belief is an inner light given to us that enables us to accept God, and his true vision of reality. It is the most constructive light that we can have, since it, in general, makes known to us how we ought to live. It is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. In its absence, people become confused. Without it, as the Encyclical says, ‘it is impossible to tell good from evil or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere’. Without the guidance of faith, we cannot be sure that we know what is right from what is wrong. We then easily go astray, following paths that seem right to us, but in the end do not advance us.
The importance of this light cannot be overstated. It ensures that we be bright or light in every sense. ‘Once the light of faith dies out, all other lights die out’ – that of wisdom, sureness, uprightness. Darkness then sets in - into our thinking and acting, and we grope or twist in unsure ways. Such a light can only come from God. The Encyclical briefly states the greatness and power of such brightness or faith: It ‘is born from an encounter with the living God, who calls us, and reveals his love for us – a love which precedes us and on which we can lean for security and for building our lives’. We depend on it for wisely developing our lives.
Belief, which is a gift from God, is a light for our path - guiding our journey here on earth. God’s love surrounds us and embraces us on all sides. We have to develop in life within its scope. Only faith gives us the vision to perceive this.