In The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (which I reviewed here), Andy Bannister talks a lot about how important it is to know how much truth catchy one-liners actually hold. It’s an interesting idea that these kinds of statements appeal to us firstly on an aesthetic level, and then lead us to believe something – regardless of how accurate it is. For example, I have a shirt that says just below the logo “Crafted for the individual”. Was it really, though? Did the workers who made that shirt think “Okay, today we’re making a shirt for Nat, so it’s got to be something he’d wear?” Certainly, the reason I bought it was because it looked good to me and fit me well, but I really don’t think that was exactly what was going through their heads. I’m sure that many other people, with different needs and preferences to my own, have also bought that brand of shirt, so the idea that it was designed just for me is questionable at best.
I recently found someone on Twitter who had gone to Soul Survivor and come back with this little nugget of inspiration:
I should probably stop being so condescending, because she seems to have a point. Being a Christian has given me a sense of purpose, direction and vision that I lacked before I became one. It’s answered a lot of questions I had about life and its meaning. In a sense, my life is better now that I’ve given it over to Christ. I’m not here to dispute that. At the same time, I do take issue with this statement for a couple of reasons.
The first real issue I have with the Tweet (I can just about get over the fact that she used “gods” instead of “God’s”), is that it seems to suggest that living apart from God is somehow an option. When I initially read the Tweet, it looked to me like she was trying to suggest that life can be led without God, but that it’s not as good as when it’s led with God. It was almost like saying “Chips taste better when they’re eaten with salt” – you could theoretically eat them without salt, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but they would just taste like they were missing something. This isn’t how the Christian life works, though. Considering that Jesus once said “I have come that [the human race] might have life, and have it in all its fullness” (John 10:10), I’m inclined to believe that life was always supposed to be lived with God in the picture. Indeed, this is how it was in the beginning, before the Fall, when humanity decided it knew better than to live God’s way – and paid the price for it. It’s when we try to live without God that things really start to go south. God doesn’t just enhance our lives, He completes them.
Another thing I picked up on is her idea of God being ‘in’ our lives. On the face of it, she has a point – God is ‘in’ my life insofar as He is something I spend time on. I’m just wondering if it’s more accurate to say that we play a role in God’s story, rather than God playing a role in ours. It’s far easier for us to push God out than it is for Him to push us out. Additionally, some have argued that following God shouldn’t just be part of our life, it should be our life. It’s true that not every hour of our day can be spent in prayer or reading the Word, but it is possible to live in such a way that loving God and loving those around us underpins every single thing we do, in one way or another. I’ll blog some more about this at a later point.
I’m more than willing to forgive the author of that Tweet, since she probably had the best intentions I could ask for; besides, she’s only a regular member of the Church, so it’s not as big a deal as if some high-profile Christian figure had said it. And admittedly, I am known to overanalyse things sometimes, so maybe this was another example of me doing that. I just want my theology and that of my readers to be as accurate as possible, so that our understanding of God can be improved, which means I tend to react whenever I see something that I’m not sure adds up. I suppose I’m also concerned about the Christian faith being undersold by short, snappy statements like these. Let’s all use this as a learning point, eh?