Many of us have pondered at one time or another whether God is really necessary.
Some of us may even have driven by a church and wondered why ‘they’ get such a nice property. Some of us think that all religious people are phonies and ministers are in it for the money. Still others believe it would be best if our society were free of faith.
I understand that sometimes we all find moral standards a hindrance to how we want to live. I feel the same way. I don’t like the idea of God watching me all the time. That is one of the main reasons why people stop believing in God. They don’t want any standards of right or wrong.
Others have an equally emotional (and equally wrong) reason for rejecting belief: They were hurt by someone in a church or by someone who claimed to be a Christian.
But we must remember that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is really a Christian. Not every email claiming to be from a lonely Russian girl is really from a Russian, or even a girl.
A Christian is one who seeks to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. That’s difficult. Sometimes even Christians mess up.
Life is messy.
But to make our hurts, weaknesses and failings the basis for what we believe is simply silly.
People have tried to build a society without God, but every time it has been tried, it has ended in a bloody mess. The French tried it. They started with the French Revolution in 1789, but that never led to the ideal society they all envisioned. Instead, when the people cast off morals, they became more violent. It became so bad that it took a fellow named Guillotine to find a way to make the killings less painful; 50,000 deaths later, a little dictator named Napoleon finally brought order to the anarchy.
Another great example is the U.S.S.R. Those who revolted in 1917 were determined to build a “God-free” utopia based on the teachings of Marx and Lenin. For more than 70 years, atheism was taught in schools, churches were used as museums, religious leaders were tortured in the ice prisons of the Gulag, and 40 million innocent citizens were starved or murdered. When the curtain finally fell, the beautiful “Motherland” had been decimated. Lakes were polluted almost beyond recovery. And of the people left alive, 60 million were alcoholics. But when Christianity and churches actively work in society, they bring about a better world.
In the early Roman Empire, it was common for people to leave their baby girls outside to die. But Christians habitually picked up and adopted them.
After the rebirth of Christianity in the Middle Ages, devout people committed themselves to reforming the ills of society. In the early 19th Century, a single man, George Muller, raised the equivalent of $100 million to house orphans.
Wilberforce, through the sheer “force of his will”, abolished slavery in the British Empire. Others fed the poor, started unions for the fair treatment for workers, and fought child labor.
Most of the early hospitals and schools in America were founded by Christian churches. Even Ivy League Schools like Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale were built by devout Christians to teach the Bible.
It is a little known fact that much of what we value in our society – freedom, hospitals, science, schools, laws – is due, at least in part, to the sacrificial work of devout believers who went before. True faith is foundational to a healthy society.
John Martens is pastor at The Connection.