Does God exist? If we do not acknowledge that He is the Creator of the universe and all life on earth, then it is not easy to be convinced of His existence. We instead have to choose to believe those who claim to know Him. Last week, Barbados honoured another centenarian, and as expected, she credited a relationship with the Lord Jesus as the primary reason for her long life. To my knowledge, all of our centenarians acknowledge that it is their relationship with the Lord that has preserved them.
This is incredible, for the longer we live on the earth, the more likely it is that we will have painful experiences. Our centenarians have probably experienced hardship, poverty, racism, and the death of their friends and members of their family in ways that we can scarcely imagine. When we experience painful events, our typical reaction is to blame God. Some even report hating God for the loss of relatively young loved ones. Yet these are found holding even tighter to their Heavenly Father’s hand.
Though their bodies have aged so that they expend more effort to do what was previously easy, still they appear unmoveable in their assertion that God is real and that they know Him through Jesus Christ. With no discernable reason to lie to or deceive us, they appear to be credible witnesses, however, even they seem unable to convince some of us of God’s care.
It seems analogous to trying to explain colour to one born blind, which can be frustrating for both parties. The one who can see sometimes cannot contain his enthusiasm when describing the many pleasures of sight. To the one born blind, the descriptions are too unbelievable and are understandably dismissed as fanciful nonsense. Such a situation can easily escalate into conflict as the one who can see, in their overzealous exuberance to convince the blind, may say or do inappropriate and perhaps offensive things.
Those who believe in God’s existence can sometimes behave like the overzealous person with sight and as a result, become stereotyped as intolerant, religious right, fundamentalist, narrow minded, ignorant, bigoted and the like. Similarly, the unbeliever can be labelled: sinner, liberal, godless, wicked, devilish, unrighteous, hell bound, and the like. This war of words is unnecessary and should not be.
Both the believer and the unbeliever can exhibit behaviour that is wicked, intolerant, liberal, good, kind, patient, and forgiving. The difference is that one has developed a relationship with God, and the other has not.
If we believe Jesus, then God who created us all, loves us all regardless of whether we believe or not. We grow in different environments, some more conducive than others in encouraging such a belief. However despite our environment, God Himself will invite each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Some may reject His invitation, while others may accept it. Those who reject Him may have opportunities to change their minds later, for an unbeliever is only a breath away from believing.
The believer’s responsibility is therefore not to attempt to trick others into believing. They should simply live responsibly and share their experiences as they pursue a relationship with their Heavenly Father. This relationship is experienced not read about or studied. For studies cannot adequately describe the experience that God who created the universe loves me and wants a relationship with me. It is too incredible and almost beyond belief.
Some of those who reside in St Peter may partly understand how a believer feels. For to know that our Prime Minister, who is busy managing the national economy, can find the time to play dominoes with some fellows in a shop can be difficult for some to comprehend. Those fellows may boast about knowing the PM to the point of irritating those who have no such relationship with him. Imagine then the feelings of those who have developed a personal relationship with Almighty God, the Creator of all things.
The studies, sermons, songs and readings can be good and beneficial, however they are hollow and ultimately meaningless without the relationship. Believe our centenarians – get to know the Lord.