Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Living Without God
- "And we cannot be honest unless we recognize that we have to live in this world 'even if there were no God.' And this is just what we do recognize before God! God himself compels us to recognize it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as men who manage their lives without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us. (Mark 15:34). The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we continually stand. Before God and with God we live without God. God lets himself be pushed out of the world to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt 8:17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering."
- excerpt from LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Over the weekend, an article and a conversation have teamed to shed some light on this for me. It has to do with the will - the intentionality with which we do what we do. If we are doing "just enough" to get by, or doing what's expected in playing the religion game, then we are basing our motivation around ourselves. It's a selfish existence that lives by doing "just enough". It says, "here's what I'm doing, and that's all I'm doing, because I don't see myself needing to do more than XYZ to gain what I want - which is mostly just peace for myself." We live life as "christians" in a way that might be showing we don't really believe God is there, or at least that He's not the same as revealed in scripture.
So where does that leave this bold statement from Bonhoeffer? This is just where I'm going with it right now: I need to live life the kingdom-life, whether or not I "feel" His presence. If He's there or not, I'm to be about His work. There are times of silence, times of dryness, desert experiences of cleansing where everything is removed, including what I thought were strong convictions and foundational views. All that's left is God - now, can I live life so that even if He's not there, I still point to Him? ... something like that. Maybe it's like when I was a teenager. Our parents would leave to go wherever, expecting my brother and I to not kill each other, to keep the house from burning down, to clean our rooms and the kitchen and stuff - even if they're not there, act and behave and obey as if they were.
Then again, there's Coupland's LIFE AFTER GOD. Great book, one of the first ones that got me thinking and re-thinking my thoughts on life, the universe and everything.