Saturday, October 22, 2011
Excerpts from my book (GOD)
One of the main pillars that has sustained and given me the strength to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of a negative and hope eroding atmosphere is my faith in God. Being in the journey of life has taught me the importance of attaching myself to the source of hope, the well of inspiration and the sustainer of life. What I am talking about is having a relationship with the Big Man upstairs. I know when I mention Him, what comes into the minds of many is religion. Well, let me help you, I grew up in a religious family, I was forced from a young age to go to church on Sunday mornings and for many years, I continued attending church without really seeing the relevance of it in my life.
As author, Laurence J. Peter rightfully puts it, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.” What was happening every Sunday morning was just a religious ritual; my life remained the same in spite of my weekly attendances. And as the founder of communism, Karl Marx once said, “Religion is the opium of people”. In other words, religion is more like a drug that poisons the minds of those who indulge in it.
The problem with religion is that it has misled many by presenting God as a passive being who is less interested in what they are going through. Religion has further portrayed God as a sadist who delights in inflicting the world with suffering, sickness, death and destruction. According to religion, God employs situations like poverty, retrenchments, accidents, death in the family, diseases and hardships to teach people a lesson and to test their faith, when the truth is to the contrary (2 Timothy3:16-17 and James1:13). God is persistently seen as the inventor of pain and suffering. That is why whenever something bad happens; God is the first one to be blamed even when we know who the culprit is. It is quite ironic to hear mourners blaming God for the death of someone even when they know the cause of his demise. Religion has further turned God into a scapegoat for all of the world’s ills, whether it is the passing away of a family member, accidents, tornados, tsunamis, diseases, recession and any other evil thing that befell mankind. God has always been perceived as the face behind the pain of humanity.
I remember the day I was requested to speak in a prayer meeting in Mamelodi for a family whose son was slain. The family was distraught by this tragic incident. So, in an effort to comfort them in their grief, various speakers stood up to offer their condolences. Many spoke about God’s love and His mysterious ways. They mentioned among others that God was the one who orchestrated the boy’s exit (death) from the world because He wanted him to come home (heaven). The family was encouraged to trust in God and not to question His sovereign will. I kept wondering whilst listening to the speakers, of how this brokenhearted family could be expected to trust in a God, whom as they say, was the source of their pain, to me this was just a contradiction. So, when my time came to speak, I told the family that God was not responsible for their pain but the people who murdered their son. I reminded them that people who commit murder are usually arrested and jailed for their deeds. I further mentioned that there was no judge in the world who will acquit a murderer who claims he was send by God to maim others in the name of fulfilling His will. I concluded by saying, man and not God was responsible for their loss.
It is funny that our prisons are full of people who were convicted for crimes; religion has blamed it on God. It is a paradox to blame God for diseases and adverse weather conditions, when the source of all these problems has been proven scientifically. The world is hurting today because of the different religions that are warring for supremacy. What mankind is ignorant to, is the fact that God is not interested in religion but in having a relationship. After all religion is man’s own understanding about God while a relationship is God revealing himself to mankind? Thus, the bible teaches us that God is a father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and our father in heaven (Matthew 6:9) God also wants to be our friend, just as He was to Moses (Exodus 33:11) and Abraham (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23).
What I am communicating to you is not religion but developing a relationship with God. It is of utmost importance to note the difference between the two. For instance, religion is characterized by intimidation, bondage, stagnancy, confusion, arguements, traditions, complexities, arrogance, intolerance, ignorance, fear, immaturity, rules, rigidity, manipulation, judgment and too much control. While a relationship is based on submission, love, humility, simplicity, understanding, faith, redemption, free will, reconciliation, accountability, flexibility, truth, growth and progress. What is sad is that throughout history, God has been battling to free mankind from a mentality of being religious to an understanding of having a relationship with Him. One of the great teachers of all time, Jesus Christ was hounded during his earthly ministry by religious leaders who felt that his message of having a relationship with God was contrary to their religious beliefs. This led to him being crucified since the religious leaders of those days could not stomach an idea of man having a father-son relationship with the almighty God. To them everything sounded as blasphemy. What they didn’t notice is that God wants us to recognize His love, relevance and the active role He desires to play in our lives.