“Faith,” ridicules atheist Richard Dawkins,“ is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” And he believes it.
Richard Dawkins is more than puzzled by faith; he is affronted, aggrieved, and exasperated by it. It seems like he is determined to stamp out the flame that continues to smoulder and flicker around the world as if it were as dangerous to public safety as a peat fire. He’s not alone. For some reason a large portion of this world’s inhabitants find it necessary to abuse and mistreat the concept of faith. Why is it? More than that, why are followers of a first century Jewish teacher the targets of so much aggravation? From northern Nigeria to North Korea, from Pakistan, India, and Egypt to Columbia and Cuba, the community of Christian faith is considered fair game for abuse.
To many, faith seems to epitomize weakness, cerebral impotence and servility. In contrast, natural man longs for power. The charm of power (intellectual, financial, political, or self-determining power) despises faith. Friedrich Nietzsche described the mindset of anti-faith with his “will to power” philosophy that created the ‘Ubermensch’ concept; the ‘Over-man’ or ideal man would epitomize everything material man could become: powerful, ruling without the need for mercy, completely divested of spirituality, Over-man would be free of the restrictions of morality and ethics. This is where we in the Western world have embraced the anti-faith worldview. For many, the idea of faith is preposterous: Dawkins and many others consider faith to be both ridiculous and ridicule-worthy.
Why? — Because at its essence, a life of faith must be at cross-purposes to the ambition for power. Faith looks at the evidence and agrees with God that all power on earth is an endowment from Him – the power to live and to breathe, to think and to investigate, to make and to change – everything comes from Him and falls within His dominion. We haven’t the ability to truly control true power. Not in spite of the evidence, as Dawkins believes, but because of the evidence, people of faith relinquish power. They have no need to grasp that which will not last – they have a hope that they have been given something of lasting and indestructible value, though it is unseen now.
Perhaps what irks those without faith is twofold: Firstly, Christians accept the claims of Jesus’ exclusivity – He is the only way, the only truth and the only life, holding sole rights in granting access to God the Father. And secondly, His followers refuse to bow to none other than Him. While the likes of Nero, Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong-un, and extremists in almost every Muslim nation have attempted to decrease the world’s population of Christians, nothing seems to deter the faithful. Not even death.
The ancient writer, Habakkuk, spoke in timeless vernacular comparing the life of the faithless man with the life a man or woman who believes he or she is complete in Christ. Of the former, the prophet says, “He is arrogant and never at rest” (Hab. 2:5). The ambition to obtain power leaves the Over-man restless; he must find a scapegoat on which to take out his frustrations and aggressions – the concept of faith and the people of faith will be easy targets.
Of the latter, Habakkuk observes, “The righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). Faith will be both the cause and effect of those who live within its parameters. It will embolden its bearers to rely completely on the indwelling power of the Spirit of God to accomplish anything of value in this life. It will find hope and love to be its partners, perseverance to be its mentor, and humility its guide. The people of faith will find Jesus more than sufficient as they face the ridicule, scorn, and attacks that come from those who grasp at and are in the clutches of ill-gotten power.
If you are one of the faithful ones, don’t give up. Let ridicule and worse come. As the writer of Hebrews advises, “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith” (Heb.10:35-38). Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
(Photo Credit: S.D.Hitchman)