So what’s your story?
Is it the story of belief or the story of unbelief: theism or atheism? For these are really the only two scripts you can live by.
And, the script you live by will not ultimately be judged according to the doctrine and dogma you explicitly declare.
There may be a disconnect between espoused belief and way of life. It is the authenticity with which we live our guiding stories that renders open to judgement by our ‘peers’ and, if you explicitly believe in God, by God. The parable of the Sheep and Goats – a salvation parable – makes clear the possible disconnect; it is of huge significance that those who were welcomed into the heavenly realms were unaware that they were serving the Divine. Believers shouldn’t forget that many who claim to have carried out various acts of power in the name of the Lord open themselves up to summary dismissal; frightening stuff.
But what about the earthly, temporal realm? Well your choice is simply this: are you going to be the narrator and chief actor of your own story. This is the atheistic perspective. It is of course entirely possible to be the narrator, creator and principal actor in your own script even whilst declaring an explicit belief in God. The disconnect again! Let’s consider the possible consequences of this script:
Well you are going to get tired, very tired, because your script will need to be constantly revised as events outside your control inevitably take their toll. It could be that your script never reaches a sensible, credible, conclusion. In your role as narrator-director and lead actor you may well treat other actors as pawns, whose primary purpose is to serve the needs of the narrative. The world, in other words, will become increasingly small, revolving round you, the ‘micro creator.’ The good news is that you probably will shape your own destiny, certainly temporal, and very possibly eternal. The bad news is that it you might unwittingly create a story with an unhappy ending. You may start off seeking to write an epic romantic novel but end up creating a tragic farce; try not to be bitter.
So what about the other choice? Well at first sight it’s far less glamorous for you will forego the opportunity to narrate your own story; you will be able to do so because you recognize their is a power beyond your control. This leads to two further choices, hopeless theism or hopeful theism. Hopeless theism (stoicism) shrugs its shoulders and says ‘what will be will be,’ hopeful theism, living faith, goes beyond stoicism, replacing ‘what will be will be, ‘with ‘not my will but thine be done.’ This approach relocates the purposefully passivity of Gethsemane. The living mantra of those who live by faith is ‘into thy hands I commend my spirit, for thou has redeemed me Oh God of truth.’ The person of faith, the true theist, doesn’t need to revise their script because any story they write is subsidiary to the grand meta narrative (oh how contemporary society hates meta narratives!)
As true theists begin to mature, they tend to forego the opportunity to play the part of the lead actor. They are happy to consistently become smaller and smaller in relation to both their peers (no need for inverted commas here) and the cosmos. It is only through the story of living faith that this orientation becomes possible, credible. Why because this story is a true love story, and don’t we all enjoy these far more in the end. Don’t we all really want our stories to end ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’
So what’s your guiding story?