Thanks to social media, I’ve recently caught-up with an old friend of mine from my college days at WVU (this is one thing I really do like about Facebook, etc.). We haven’t spoken in nearly 12 years, as life took us in different directions after graduation. We had a lot of similar interests and hung out a lot “back in the day.” As we started talking, our conversation went straight back to those good o’ days and times in Morgantown. It was great to catch-up and hear he was doing well. But then out of nowhere, he says to me, “So, you’re a holy roller now?!” I quickly laughed (as I remembered his blunt personality), and then answered, “Yes, I am.”
A few years ago and a question like that would have fazed me; but not now. My faith is my core; it is who I am. He must’ve sensed that as he began to ask more about my “holy roller journey.” I told him my testimony (for those who do not know, a testimony is what us Christians call our “holy roller journey”). I talked about some things that happened over the last decade which changed my outlook on life. Four things in particular (meeting my wife, losing my grandfathers, beginning my medical practice, and becoming a father) led me to question life’s meaning (I’m pretty sure he did not think our catching-up would lead into a discussion about the meaning of life!). I told him that over a period of 2-3 years I wrestled with this topic, but I finally found clarity in Jesus Christ and gave my life to God. As we continued to talk, he asked “You found perspective, but why do you need Jesus or God?”
A person that believes in Atheism and trusts in the Theory of Evolution (believing there is no God or supernatural entity, only the natural-physical presence within this universe) has to succumb to the fact that each person’s life has no real meaning; the universe just formed by accident and it will eventually burn-up (or freeze, depending on which theory you read), and each person just lives and dies to be completely forgotten (did you know that within 2 generations, no one in this world will remember or speak of your life?). This philosophy states humanity just happened (due to genetic mishaps and natural selection) and is therefore no different then the “less evolved” organic species, or for rocks for that matter. Where is meaning in this understanding of human life?
Karl Marx, a well-known atheist, once stated “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”. He believed religion was created by humanity only to help get it through trials and pain, acting similar to the drug opium. He thought religion was a negative attribute for humanity, as it kept people looking towards the “afterlife” rather than working for good in their current life. However, I disagree with his line of reasoning. If there is no God and knowing our short-lived lives will only be forgotten, then why would anyone care to do anything positive in this life? If our universe is headed towards cataclysmic collapse and all life will cease, then what is really the point of your life? The answer is nothing. In the absence of God, no real meaning for life is found.
Our life in this world is best described in James 4:14, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” But there is comfort and peace in trusting that there is life after our physical death. It is this understanding that gives our life and actions real purpose and meaning. To do good to others will not merely be forgotten (even when the universe burns-up or freezes), but will be commended by God the Father in the future. “But isn’t it hard to try and always do good and keep all those rules?” he asked. To that question, I explained that this is how Christianity is completely different that all other religions-philosophies of the world.
You see, all other religions-philosophies have rules, and if their followers comply with enough of these rules then they get rewarded (heaven, nirvana, etc). So their followers are motivated to do good only because of fear (I have to do good or I’m punished!). However, followers of Christianity are motivated to do good, not out of fear of punishment, but of love and appreciation. God sent Jesus to take the punishment from all of us. He was murdered and died for all of us, so that we may all be accepted. Christians are rewarded Heaven by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, and not by following enough rules. Seeing what Jesus did for all of us is what drives a Christian to do good in this life. Are Christians perfect? Am I perfect? Of course not, just as Dana! But even when I make mistakes, I know I can come to God through Jesus and He will still accept me, and this is what drives me to want to be better (as I want to please my Heavenly Father, just like all of us want to please our parents).
As we wrapped-up our conversation, we exchanged pleasantries and each noted it was nice to catch-up after so many years. I’m hopeful he will think about our conversation and dig into these important questions. If he does, I’m confident he will also come to the realization that real purpose and meaning is only found in God, culminating in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If understanding this truth makes me one, then I’m 100% Holy Roller!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV).