“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
–Henry David Thoreau
“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers…”
–2 Corinthians 4:4
I’ve been meaning to put pen to paper recently as I continue to hear of distant family and friends who grew up “Christian” but have since, for all intents and purposes, left the faith. It struck me that many of us as young children engaged in Christian activities like going to church, singing in choir, attending youth group and youth camp, and even going on missionary trips. But somehow, as happens often, we missed the Person behind it all, the real Jesus.
I think if we’re all honest we’d admit that there have been certain things we’ve preferred much more than relationship with Christ. We’ve been loyal to the kingdom of anger, or the kingdom of self-pity, or possibly the kingdom of wealth, or of pride, or even of needing inspiration because we feel so empty. In fact, in my own field of psychology, I encounter countless clients who have lived loyal to the kingdom of their feelings.
We all believe that because we have sight we can see. But that’s the greater blindness, to think that we see clearly when in fact we’re in the dark. There are requirements for leaving the dark. It is hard work that demands thinking. But even Helen Keller agreed that “people don’t like to think because thinking leads to conclusions, and conclusions are not always pleasant.”
So the journey to light begins with the author of Light and our thinking about all that this means, and more precisely all that He means. It is His Person that transforms us, not churchy activities or events. As we begin to unravel from our disappointing church histories, we are forced to encounter the Person behind that institution, the One who gave His life for me and you, the One who Scripture claims is great, but who nonetheless wants to be a friend to those who aren’t.
It’s not surprising that many move away from faith if all that they experienced was religion. It’s like being asked to describe my marriage and I go on about how loyalty is essential, and providing a home is necessary, and maintaining a job has allowed for marital longevity, but I miss entirely the person of the marriage. I fail to describe how beautiful my wife is, that she enjoys coffee brought to her each morning, that writing for her is a balm for the aches she feels from life, that her children put a smile on her face, and so on.
I would not be married if it were not for the person of Jamie. Likewise, I would have absolutely no interest in following the emptiness of religion were it not for the real Jesus who speaks through the noise of my life, who tells me of His love when I feel lonely, and who describes perfect forgiveness for all the darkness I’ve walked in that only He knows about.
Remember Amazing Grace?“I once was blind, but now I see.” We don’t celebrate our sight, per se, but rather the Physician that made it possible, the Author of true enlightenment Who makes it possible for us to see not just the visible but the invisible all around us, but especially the Invisible.