Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What did you do for "Do something for someone and expect nothing in return", challenge?

Okay everyone,
This Tuesday we decided to issue a challenge to our faithful U.T.I community. The challenge was simple; go spread love to someone in need and don't look for something in return.

So let's use this blog to post the amazing things you all have done.

Another World Is Possible!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Does God want to have a relationship with us?

This is an exciting venture for me (Pete). To embark on a blog that will hopefully serve as an aid to all participants in understanding and experiencing love, peace, and truth, all of which I believe come from God. This blog has been set up following a series at UTI that tackles the tough questions of God's existence and role in our lives. Here, Jon and I will be giving our thoughts following the series, and the lingering questions that are no doubt circulating the minds of many. In my first blog, I will respond to the questions and opinions of one particular member of UTI whom I respect dearly and am moved by his thoughts. Here is what he wrote: 

"If God truly wanted to have a relationship with human beings, and I really mean a relationship, then why would he have us endure so much pain and suffering in our lives? Why would he want us to experience the anguish of loss when he wants to be with us? I have seen no evidence in my life to prove otherwise. If God wished to truly be with us in any kind of relationship at all, then wouldn't there be some feeling; some manifestation of proof that he is with us when we face our problems? The only truth that I, or anyone else that has come to know, is that we are alone in our problems; it is we who suffer, we who must endure so much and it is we that must deal with it on our own. Say for a second that God is there, and that he sees us; Would he really want a relationship with a people who are so messed up that we could destroy ourselves in the time it takes to blink? The answer is no; it would be a waste of his time. The simple truth of the matter is that God does not wish to have a relationship with us, we are alone. We must endure on our own in this life where, the sad part is, there is no place for God in our lives. In a relationship or otherwise."

I was deeply moved by such an emotional, thought-out response to our original question. In it I saw a lot of struggle to come to grips with the idea that God is even there and wants anything to do with us, and also that based on evidence, it just doesn't seem like a likely possibility. With humility I would like to offer my response as a follower of Christ to the questions raised above. 

I find that sometimes in life, we all struggle to acknowledge the perspective of those around us. We know who we are and how we feel, and in the darker times it's hard to see anything else. We simply know that life sucks, that we are sad, and in the midst of the problem we are facing, there just doesn't seem to be any saving grace. So what do we do with the question of God, when we are going through such trials? I understand, first hand, that it can be difficult to "see" God in the midst of trials and tribulations. Even as a follower of Christ I would be remiss not to acknowledge my own struggles in which I found it hard to see God. But when I look to the life of Jesus, I see that God has struggled too. Many of us are familiar with the story of Jesus, and perhaps the climax of his story, his death on the cross. When I think about Jesus' execution on the cross, I realize that God knows all too well what it is like to suffer. And when I ponder the reasons for this death - why Jesus would ultimately want to suffer himself - I realize that Jesus did it for us; that he cared about us so much, that God himself would suffer for us. So when we experience pain and suffering, I always try to think about Jesus - not just his death, but the pain and suffering he no doubt felt whenever he witnessed the injustice of the Roman Empire, or the religious elite, or anyone else for that matter. Rather than saying that God wants us to experience the anguish of loss so he can be with us, I think it might be more accurate to say that God wants to be with us through the anguish of loss. That is the example I see when I read about Jesus. The shortest verse in the bible is also one of the most powerful: "Jesus wept." 

The next part of this young man's questioning (and I'm sure the question of many others) is "why?" Why would God want to "waste his time" with a messed up people like us? This to me, is perhaps the most beautiful and convicting part of the message of Jesus: It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, or what you will do - Jesus loves you! Who among us has never done something we've deeply regretted? Being a little older, my list might be little longer! But whatever the case, there have been many things in my life that I have deeply regretted - whether it be the times that I have "trespassed" against another, or times in which I just felt worthless as a human being, I have in many ways been saved by the message of Jesus. How we answer the question of "why" would God want to have a relationship with us, depends on "who" we believe God to be. Recognizing that we all have different beliefs, it's my belief that if a God does exist, that such a God would have to be the greatest, most caring, powerful, and amazing God, or be no God at all. I'm not sure I have the intellectual capacity to explain "why" God loves us the way he does and wants to be in relationship with him. But I believe that God not only displays love like no other, but is the epitome of love, and the author of love. It's simply up to us to accept that love. And I have found it to be amazing beyond words.

My heart becomes sombre when I think about the tough times we all go through. Some of it no doubt is of our own doing, other times, life seems to kick us when we're down, and it always hurts. Sometimes, when we go through enough of these tough times, we question the nature of our reality. Why it sucks so bad, why we hurt so much, and where is there any room for a God when such pain and suffering exists? The above "traveller of life" as I will call him, laments the following: "There is no place for God in our lives, the sad thing is that we are alone." What a powerful sentiment that is. Perhaps what I find most powerful however, is the declaration that it is a "sad" thing, that God doesn't exist. That we are alone, and beyond repair. As I close, I would say, that this is a cry that I have cried many times in my life. A cry for help, and a cry for hope. I would suggest, that the only thing (or being) big enough to fill the hope that I have, is an all-loving God. May we not settle for anything less.