A post at Parchment and Pen about “Why Nathan Left Christianity” has got me thinking. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/09/why-nathan-left-christianity/
My downtrodden perspective radically changed when I realized that this may be the only life I will ever have. I realized that when you die, you really are dead! Life on earth is all I will ever get. Through this perspective, I was no longer suicidal. I wanted to live, and experience this life for whatever its worth. Then and here, I truly shed my faith once and for all (an act I was never truly able to do before).
You know there’s something seriously wrong with your message when it makes people feel suicidal. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the idea that you often hear reverberating through church walls, “The only reason we are on this earth is to tell people about Heaven,” and so much the more when I read things like that. What is it that gives our afterlives so much more dignity than the life we are in now?
We need to realize that if everyone were a traveling evangelist, we wouldn’t have modern medicine or technology. What good is technology, you say? Well, it helps us reach the world. It helps us communicate back home from “the field”. It helps us save peoples’ lives. If all we were meant for were heaven, we wouldn’t have a world universe full of scientific discoveries awaiting us, or ways of expressing ourselves through art, or choices between ultimate good and ultimate evil. In Jesus’ ministry, He didn’t so much “tell people how to get to heaven when they die,” He told them how to live their lives here, and eternal life would come afterward. He met peoples’ needs.
Is the message important? Absolutely. But living life is important, too. Showing “the gospel message” through our actions, not just in words. We need to be an example of how to live a balanced life, able to enjoy and “suck the marrow” out of every day living, but without falling into the trappings of this world. I think if Nathan had been taught to live life to its fullest inside the bounds of his faith, he wouldn’t have looked to leave that faith.