Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
In the last reflection, we discussed what to do if you lose your faith and how to explain the existence of God to someone who has lost faith. These two questions presume that at some point, someone was faithful and they need only to return or rediscover the faith they once had.
Today we will address the issue of what to do if you’ve never had faith, and how to talk to someone who’ve never had faith.
Faith, by definition, is believing in something you can’t fully see or fully comprehend. I read once somewhere that it is actually harder to believe that there is NO God than that there is one. Even in my weakest faith moments, when I’ve felt disappointed with God, or felt that God was somehow absent, or when I absented myself from God, even in thse moments, I have always believed in God. There are times when my faith has been strong, when God has felt present, and when I have felt very present with Him. But even in my weaker moments, I always come to the same conclusion, there is no way that all this stuff we have happens without God. I live and work around objects and things created by people. But not everything I see has been created by people. The light of the sun, the sea stretching so far that one can’t see anything over the horizon, the way the clouds gather, darken and eventually produce rain, thousands of stars in the sky on a clear night, natural wonders, a gentle breeze, heavy wind, the leaves changing color in the fall, and flowers blooming in the spring, none of these things can happen because of the work of any of us.
For the person who has never had faith, the best place to start is in nature. How did this stuff, in fact, get here? What keeps it going? It is not only study, but thought that leads us to the conclusion that something bigger than us is responsible for the big things around us. For the one who argues that everything evolved from a single event—i.e a big bang or something like it—I would argue, who created that event, what caused it? We can go back in time for every almost every event and find an evolution of activity that led to that event. We can go back as far as the first event, and then realize, someone outside of us and outside of everything we know created that first event. And that someone is God.
The first thing to grasp when it comes to faith has to do with our origin. We did not evolve, not did we happen randomly. We are part of an intentionally created world. There is “evolution” in the world. Things evolve, they change. We change throughout our lives. We evolve based on our age, our growth and our circumstances. But evolution is change, not origin. We change from our origin. But our origin is not a result of change, but of creation, and the Creator is God.
The second thing to grasp when it comes to faith is our purpose. Most things we buy in life have a temporary purpose. Take an article of clothing. The purpose of a sweater is to keep us warm. We value sweaters enough to pay $20 or $50 or some amount of money. We do not change the course of our lives for a sweater. Nor will we own a sweater forever. We will outgrow our sweaters, we will wear out our sweaters, and eventually we will dispose of our sweaters. From the day we purchase the sweater, it is “working its way” towards destruction. It is one day closer to when it will be disposed of and destroyed.
We are not like the sweater. Our purpose is not temporary, it is permanent. We are created to live forever, not be used and destroyed. Every day that we are alive, we are one day closer to our eternal destiny, not our expiration date. If there is nothing after life, then life has no purpose, and as we advance through life, we would have increasing sadness. Our purpose is to permanently live with God.
And in between our creation, which ultimately has God as its source, and our date to stand before God, there is the life we have. If our purpose isn’t to serve God, then what is our purpose? If our purpose is to make money so we can acquire material wealth, that makes us narcissists. If our purpose is to be good to people, so that they will be good to us, that again is self-serving. If our purpose is to be good to everyone so that the society is good to everyone, even though this seems noble, it ultimately is self-serving. The only purpose that carries meaning in life is to serve someone greater than us because serving ourselves, and even serving others for the sake of societal goodness ends up as self-serving.
I don’t expect this reflection to convert anyone. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the converting of the heart. I hope today’s writing helps us pause to think. If a person didn’t have any faith, a good place to start is answering the questions of where did we come from? Ourselves or someone greater than us? We certainly can recreate human life, but who created the first human life? Where are we going? If we are not headed to a life greater than the life we have, then the journey through life is a sad one, rather than a hopeful one. And finally, what are we doing with the life we have? Serving God, serving others in hope of reward, or serving self? Serving God means to release hope of reward and serve because altruistic service is what ultimately brings fulfillment in God.
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them. Full of honor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear Him; He is ever mindful of His covenant. He has shown His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy, they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and terrible is His name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. He praise endures forever! Psalm 111
You have some degree of faith if you are reading this message. If you are lost, work your way back. If you know someone who has never been exposed to Christianity, consider discussing some of these questions when the time is right.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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