In recent days I've had a number of in-depth conversations with atheists and agnostics ... it's been great, and depressing. And central to the discussions has been what defines value. If we define it ourselves, then ultimately there is no real value (but more on that another time).
A thought that grew from these conversations ...
We are relational. I think whatever one's belief you would agree. We are created (or evolved, if you prefer) as relational beings, we crave interaction. Our lives centre around relationships, and someones loneliness is the worlds greatest disease.
Popular people and shy introverts alike, we all live for the briefest of touches from true relationship.
Now granted, some use relationships for power, for abuse, for ego, some for self-affirmation, some for cruelty. But we all revolve around relationship, and we all yearn for it.
Last week, late on a cold winters* evening, satiated with food and sipping a glass of red wine in the dim light of a roaring fire -- that moment when we feel secure and risk opening ourselves to others -- an atheist said to me that he wished God were true so that he could know him.
Why oh why, in an age of hooking up, of jumping from bed to bed, changing relationships like clothes, immersed in self-centered preservation, do we struggle to accept relationship with God? From secular therapists to church counselors, we chase whatever it takes to be "personally whole" in trying to deal with the fractured, shallow, and tenuous relationships where we've substituted facebook, twitter, and virtual reality for the embrace of an invested person. (And please ... I'm not denying the incredible value and importance of personal healing).
But doesn't relationship begin by ignoring yourself, and investing in someone else. Try that thought again: true relationship ... what we are made for ... our inherent nature ... begins, grows, and thrives when we value someone else before ourselves. Ultimate relationship is when we realize the immensity of God's worth compared to us, and invest in him.
Hmmm ... so if I am relational, and if to be whole is to be what I am made to be, then to be whole has to include investing in others.
This seems to be the opposite of just about everything the (western) world wants us to do.
And all the time God says "I am the ultimate relationship, why not try me?".
* For those in the northern hemisphere, may I remind you that here in the southern hemisphere it is winter (July)