Faith/Religion

One thing I might miss once I graduate is the fantastic feeling of freedom after finishing all the assignments for a class – this I have done when it comes to Sociology 101. I handed in a really great research paper last night, and I feel so free! I have my final in two weeks, and I will be one semester away from graduation 🙂

We talked a little bit about religion in class last night, and discussed Marx’s view that the teachings of religion legitimate social inequalities. This is the opposite of what Christians would like to believe! Jesus was a revolutionary because he taught that women and children are worth as much as men; he drove money changers out of the temple; he healed lepers. However, churches don’t always manage to keep the same revolutionary perspective when they look at the world.
The brokenness of the world is a matter of fact for now, and we talked in class about how the prosperity gospel has some problems. Like corrupt leaders who spend more money fueling their cars/hummers in a month than their parishioners spend on food. And like the fact that Jesus was killed naked on a cross. Not so prosperous.
The thing is that religions (in Marx’s sense) give so many more answers than faith tends to do, and it is comforting to feel that life can be solved. I think this is why churches that justify social inequalities often get large followings, often including very sincere people, because people want an answer to the world’s brokenness: “the [insert people who suffer] deserve it because they are sinners – just look at the drugs they abuse and the gay sex they have, the illegitimate children they bear or the idolatry of their culture; but you can have anything you want if you truly have faith God will give it to you” – like he’s a mind-operated arcade game.
Faith, on the other hand, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “For by it the people of old received their commendation.” Faith is powerful, but it doesn’t mean you get everything you want before you die, and it doesn’t mean you get all the answers to life. A lot of people died waiting for Jesus to come. A lot of people have died waiting for him to come back again.
But this suspense is why (and I know that religion is often just the structure that our faith fits into, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but I need the ideas separate to make sense) Christianity as a faith defies Marx’s ideas about religion – because when Christians truly live out their faith with God’s help, social inequalities cannot fool us into thinking that some people are worth more than others, or that injustice is inevitable. Yes, so much brokenness is caused by sin, but that is not the final word on the matter: every single person is a candidate for redemption, and the worse off they are, the greater God’s power and grace and glory can be shown. This is the assurance we live with every day as Christians, even though it hasn’t happened yet.
A couple weeks ago in class someone raised this issue about churches: Do we settle for peace rather than truth? Sometimes, yes, and I think it can be okay because church unity is really important and honours God. However, there are truths that can never be sacrificed in order to have peace, and I think this applies to inner peace as well. Sometimes it is so draining to see injustice or suffering, and it is tempting to brush it aside with the mantra “God is sovereign; Jesus is coming.” I think that Jesus would rather us to be disturbed and horrified and pained, to struggle in prayer on behalf of others, and to draw our strength from him instead of checking out when it gets to be too much.
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