Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Tight Rope Act

How many people truly believe in god?

Polls say that among the US Population, 10% of the country is non-religious. Of that 10%, only 3% will label themselves as atheist.

But of the other 90% . . . do they really believe in god? Really?
I know they make the mental ascent. But, do they believe to the point of action?

When I was much younger and a fervent believer, I heard a neat little anecdote:

Crowds gathered at the Grand Canyon to see the great spectacle of a man who had wired a tight rope across the great expanse. He fearlessly and skillfully cross the rope, drawing awe and thunderous applauds from the fixated audience. He could traverse from one side to the other, effortlessly and skillfully. The people that continually gathered were utterly amazed.

When everyone thought they had seen the height of his performance, he wowed them even further.

He produced a wheelbarrow and nimbly drove the one-wheeled vehicle across to the other side of the canyon along the treacherous tight rope. He turned around and came back with the same ease.

He then faced the amazed crowd and cried, "how many think I can do it again?!" The crowd roared with excitement and cheered him on to another performance. He took his wheelbarrow and pushed it along the tight rope again -- turned around and came back without once seeming to loosing his balance.

Upon his return, he looked out at the crowd and exclaimed, "And now, I will load my wheelbarrow with bricks and carry them across! Can I do it? Will I make it?! Who believes?"

The crowed hushed with amazement as he loaded bricks into his wheelbarrow. After he stacked the bricks high, he started his journey. As effortless as before, he transported the cargo across the abysmal canyon without losing a single brick to the abyss below.

The crowed greeted him with ecstatic praise as he returned from the other side, every brick still in place inside the wheelbarrow.

He motioned with his hands to calm the crowd. After a few moments, he regained their attention. They now eagerly waited to hear his about his next performance stunt.

"You've seen me cross the canyon effortlessly", he cried. "You've seen me take a wheelbarrow across just the same. I've even taken bricks and filled my wheelbarrow and did not lose a single one! Now, for my next act! Who will volunteer and let me carry you across the Grand Canyon as a passenger in my wheelbarrow?"

At this, the crowed gasped and murmured. The man attempted to convince anyone he could from the audience to step out into his wheelbarrow. But before too long, the man was accompanied only by his wheelbarrow.
That anecdote was about contrasting true Christan faith with lip-service. If you truly had faith, you'd get inside the wheelbarrow. For faith was not just the mental ascent to an idea -- but the following through of it's implications.

Why do so many Christians refuse to follow through with the implications of their own beliefs?

With an angry God starring down at you and with the blood of a gentle Jesus upon your hands, why don't you follow his commands?

I'm not talking about omitting the "sin nature" and "nobody's perfect" clause; I'm including that into the equation.

Even considering that issue, why do so many Christians refuse to follow through with the implications of their own beliefs?

For example:

If Jesus fulfilled the law and has freed us from following the letter of the Law of the Jewish people, why do so many Christians churches demand tithes? (You know, that 'Paul' guy in the New Testament . . . he talked about being free from the Law a whole bunch).

If Islam is about peace, why do so many ex-Muslims fear for their lives when they leave the faith?

Why do so many Jews follow the writing of Rabbis when the Old Testament is clear that God's law is all they need? Why all the extra commentary and tradition heaped on top?

Why do hate groups in the US tend to default to a pseudo Christian faith? Maybe they recognize the inequities in the scriptures and truly want to follow through on them. Maybe they are the true believers in Christianity? (Ouch!)

But should these type of things be said . . . the believers of their various faiths get offended.

I don't think they really want to get into the wheelbarrow because deep down inside, they don't really want to take that trip across the Grand Canyon.

But they are happy just standing there, cheering on the mythical man who can effortlessly keep going across.

I think more than 3% of us are atheist.

I think more are atheist than any of us are willing to admit, I'm afraid.
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