We All Live By Faith!
Which way is right-which way is wrong?
We all live by faith. The difference lies only in the object of our faith. Even the atheist has faith in what he does or does not believe. Faith is not the property of those who choose a God; Faith is the property of any choice that does not reveal its hope until completion of the journey. Such exercise belongs to every man.
"Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference" Robert Frost.
The implications of these closing lines in the immortal "The road not taken" leaves us knowing that life consist of directions. We are not always endowed with what is necessary to determine which road is right, which is wrong or which is simply different. Confronted with roads unknown, or where they go, leaves us in the precarious position of choosing. Why one chooses this fork or the other, matters little to anyone other than the one who must live out its final implication; It is enough to choose and face such consequences as we will, along the way. It is not ours to analyze the why, in someones else's choosing, because the price they pay does not come to bare upon the fork we choose ourselves. It is ours, as are both, the burden and the destination from it.
So I write today, of that which I have said, I would not write. That I preface what follows with the burden that choice imposes upon our lives, is tribute to the human spirit, to the price paid exclusively by the executor of such a burden. So I write of God, of those who travel that road and of those who travel another road. In the context of choosing, only audacity and arrogance would seek to appoint such road to one who chooses for himself, otherwise. At this point they are simply different and the end of our journey will disclose the benefit, if any, of that difference. Obviously, each road is endowed with peril and destination all its own, but it is at the end of our journey, that the road, taken so long before, will reveal the price levied upon our life. Until then, each journey belongs to the feet and soul of travelers moving toward the end of days.
Obviously, each traveler faces a constant horizon, believing the road which disappears in such glorious light, is the appropriate road. There is a map in the mind of every man, written of thought, of calculation, of an inner spirit, under assistance of an invisible compass, which determines his direction and it is unmoved by argument or ridicule. His map and his compass is of his choosing and does not direct my way, as my map does not direct his way. I would, that every man, share a similar compass, but, in the end, it may only prove that my compass led us all in the wrong direction. And the same, should we all choose to follow the compass of any other.
The road before me personally, is paved in the teachings of Christianity. Obviously, I believe it is the right direction. If I believed any less, then I would embellish the notion that foolishness directs my follow and you then, would have every right for reason to rain down and find me suspect. The end of my journey will either reveal the authenticity of my pursuit, or, I will never know that it did not. Either way, it is my journey, along with its inherent burden and the inevitable consequence, which will come to bare upon my choosing.
It is here, where I could share, age old dispositions, from philosophers and scholars that come to decorate, both ancient and contemporary discourse and consequently, I might validate my position. Wiser men than you and I, have given all, in the exercise of finding fault or treasure with such position. They have done so with honesty and fairness and the matter remains unsettled, but, for where it lies in the souls of every one of us. In my years of study, independent research, years as a philosophy major and then on to my studies in theology, I have drenched myself in every proposed and opposed argument under the sun. As noted in Ecclesiastes, "there is nothing new under the sun." There is simply the same merry-go-round of perpetual arguments dressed in new clothes and proposed in new ink.
Then, why do I write, if not to enlist from persuasion the collection of the undecided? Because I can no more choose for any other than they can choose for me. I am more concerned with the divisiveness which comes to separate us into sides, into teams, into ideologies which paint the chosen and the un-chosen. Men who unfurl their banners and wave them about in ridicule and arrogance because they presuppose that the enlightened should do the choosing that God, himself, declines. There is a misplaced pride that comes along with choosing teams. The Christian does not have such luxury and yet, pride does not discriminate between believers or unbelievers, but truth be told, there isn't anything for which we should be proud of. We are, who we are by grace and by grace alone. We have done nothing to earn distinction. If anything, we fail to execute the longing of who we wish to be, defined, by the tablet written on our hearts. So, we bathe in His unfathomable forgiveness and grace. In its glow, we move about as His disciples thinking that we are worthy of telling the watching world, why we are right and they are wrong. We would do better to examine the kingdoms we build within. before launching the acquisition of another.
Neither is our failure evidence that God does not exist, any more than love's failures are evidence that love does not exist. It merely means that both men and love, fail in the execution of what they profess, as do men of every creed.
It would be difficult to defend the historical atrocities of faith or church and I have neither the inclination nor the want to make such an absurd effort. I would however, say the same of man, of his governments, of his nations or of his individual enterprise. Man has inflicted the poverty of menace and "ill will" on his fellow man since his introduction to community and without hope that it shall ever end. This nation, which we dearly love and rightly defend, has demons of its own and has contributed to injustices which will mark its long and noble history. We neither excuse, nor defend its wrongs, but, neither do we execute Her legitimacy because of them. The institution of family is revered and celebrated, yet, they are riddled with every kind of perverse ill under the sun and we do not strip them of authenticity. Man himself struggles to endure the encroachment of evil upon his individual faculty and yet, we hold that he is good, that he errs and that perfection eludes us all, individually and collectively.
These portraits of our short comings paint a truth which is inescapable; we are but earthen vessel, holding each, some measure of good and bad. The truth of Christianity does not rise or fall in the failed executions of its proponents, it merely displays the difficulty of trying to rise above our own sufficiency. I do not follow Christ because He makes me a better man than my neighbor, but, so that I may secure the forgiveness of my failure.
Which ever road we choose, will not spare the cup from which we all must drink. That man is an insufficient testimony to whichever ideology he chooses does not discount the reality of his journey. It only proves that each of us would like to be, so much better than we are able to be. That is the ground in which every man is planted. It is good ground, but, good ground does not always produce good harvest.
The church may not serve as the evidence of God's existence, but its failures do not diminish His existence anymore than a bad cook diminishes the existence of good food. Every faith that propels the heart, when measured by our living, will fail the standard hoisted by the tenants of that faith. We are simply not good enough to be the good we want to be.
We are a bundle of conflicting thoughts, of competing emotions and stubborn demons, which haunt the very struggle to be at peace with ourselves and with that which confronts our daily lives. If there is, in the end, proof of wrong or right, it is reserved in the finding for those who reach their end of days. Until then, every one of us walks in the faith of the road we chose. We walk in with the responsibility of that choice and the consequences will belong to us and us alone. The journey itself, is the difficult search for the destination that calls us forward. In that struggle we are all the same.
In conclusion to the thing I said I would not write about, we must find a way to speak without the insistence that "our road" is the only acceptable conclusion to our conversation. If God Himself left open roads and gave us liberty to choose, then who am I to close a road, that He Himself left open? If argument was His instrument of choice, He would whisper, the earth would tremble and we would all surrender.
It is a long road, littered with too much argument and to much anger. I rather think a more peaceful road, without such constant interference, might be more conducive to meeting God along the way. Then again, so long a road will in the end, prove nothing to those we leave behind. Until someone returns with proof of what lies ahead, argument will remain an exercise used to impress each other, but only of what we think we know. In either case, both roads will prove the same in this; We each take roads, I went left and you went right. Whatever's next is yours or mine alone.