Posts Tagged ‘National Post’

The National Post headline said “Canadians’ faith in God is ‘decoupling’ from their attachment to religion“. Given that this is a spirituality blog, you might think I regard the survey results in this article as bad news.

You would be wrong.

Says the article, published in April 2023: According to a survey carried out for the Association for Canadian Studies, a curious demographic trend in Canada is that spiritual or religious belief has persisted despite the famously steep decline in church attendance and other formal religious observances.

This “decoupling” shows up everywhere from the strictest Abrahamic monotheisms [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] to more mystical and polytheistic faiths.

So why am I — a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God — not depressed at this trend? Because I left behind the stone-hearted, negative, judgmentalism of “religion” a long time ago. And Jesus has no problem with that.

In one of the original-source biographies of His life, Jesus said this to anyone willing to listen: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

See? Jesus knew — and still knows — that religion causes nothing but spiritual and emotional fatigue for most people. These are the folks who keep striving, unsuccessfully, to be “good” enough, pray enough, sacrifice enough and give enough to satisfy sky-high standards. And if they believed they met those standards, then they would probably become just as arrogant and unforgiving as so many other religious people.

The solution is to skip religion and focus on Jesus – His remarkable teachings, gobsmacking miracles, horrifying death and incredible resurrection.

— With an open and inquiring mind, read the four original-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on Earth. They’re simple called the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

— Ask Jesus followers about Him (including ME: fdking@hotmail.com)

— Go even more radical and ask God to open your heart and mind to what He’s trying to tell you about His Son.

Many people would advise you not to waste your time on this. But I’m confident that since you’re here and reading this, you somehow know that checking out Jesus is important.

I believe you’re on the right track because if you sincerely welcome Jesus into your heart, your mind and your life, He will start making you into the person God created you to be. That’s what’s He’s doing with me. And that process won’t end until this life is finished and I join Him in Heaven.

So what do you think? Post your comments below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

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George JonasIt’s one thing for me, a committed Christian, to try and explain/justify God. It’s another altogether when a self-confessed, “non-religious” major newspaper columnist like George Jonas tackles the topic.

In a 2013 National Post column, the veteran journalist (1935-2016) wrote about dreaming he was God and encountering a range of challenges from skeptics. Here’s an excerpt from one of those chats:

   Skeptic: “Aren’t you supposed to be omnipresent? I never saw you in Auschwitz, the (Soviet) gulag, Dresden (where so much Second World War bombing took place) or Katyn Forest (site of a Second World War massacre)…”

    Jonas: “You never looked for me. You were busy doing evil things.”

    Skeptic: “Why did you let me?”

    Jonas: “Has it occurred to you that you might have acted without my permission?”

Later, Jonas (still writing as God) noted: “Men doing fiendish things used to prove the existence of evil. Now it casts doubt on the existence of God. Once I punished men for being bad; now men punish me for it. ‘If we’re bad, God, you don’t exist.’ Talk about gall.

To my sometimes-foggy brain, the insight shown here is impressive. We humans were given a mind-boggling gift  – freewill – then tested God by using it to crucify Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe to be His son. Not only did God prove freewill was for all time and space by doing nothing to stop this crucifixion, He restored Jesus for us by resurrecting Him.

(If you want powerful evidence for the resurrection, go to a website called biblegateway.com and, in the “passage lookup” section, type this:
1 Corinthians 15:6.)

Sadly, as Jonas pointed out, God’s gift of freewill hasn’t been enough for skeptics. Some may claim they haven’t done the evil that wracks the world, yet they must live with it. To that, I recall British writer G.K. Chesterton. When asked by a newspaper to write an essay on the theme ‘what’s wrong with the world?’, he responded with just this:

    Dear Sirs,
    I am.
    Sincerely yours,
    G. K. Chesterton.

He was what’s wrong with the world because of what he did and what he failed to do. I am what’s wrong with this world for the same reasons. And so are you.

That said, I am sure of this:

  1. For everyone who says the state of this world proves there is no god, just imagine how things would be if He weren’t involved. Would there ever have been peace in Ireland? Would apartheid ever have ended in South Africa? Would the Berlin Wall ever have come down?
  2. There is a price to be paid for the wrong things you and I have done, and for the right things we haven’t done. That price was paid by Jesus. If you believe this and make him your leader and best friend, then forgiveness – and the opportunity for a new, clean start – is yours. Just as it is already mine.

Does this make sense? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Are you holding out on considering a life of faith because you figure you have plenty of time for that down the road?

A study out of the U.K. says yes.

According to a 2011 National Post article, the study suggests the decline of spirituality in developed nations can be linked, at least in part, to our ever-increasing life expectancy. It causes people to postpone any sort of faith life because they don’t sense any urgency to, as the National Post termed it, “secure a place in heaven”.

I can understand this because our culture insists that pursuing fame, saving money for a Caribbean cruise, advancing your career and buying the biggest possible flat-screen TV are more important than living a life of faith.

The way I see it – and this is backed up by conversations with family members and friends – most people don’t see any benefit in considering spirituality because they have no concept that it’s about so, SO much more than the afterlife.

The media will never tell you this, but following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) isn’t about religion. It’s about a here-and-now relationship with God, through Jesus.

Yes, what happens to us when we die is of infinite importance, but to ignore the benefits of knowing God and following Jesus NOW is like buying a cottage and never using it until you retire.

This leads me to the thoughts of Ross Carkner, a pastor friend who read the same National Post article: “What about retirement planning? Do people put off saving for retirement until they retire? What is it that you and I need to have ‘in the bank’ with God before we expire, let alone retire?”

I get what Ross is saying. If you have no relationship with God, if you don’t know who He is or have even a vague understanding what Jesus has done for everyone who follows Him, then will you get much comfort from a last-minute deathbed “conversion”?

In the meantime, what happens if you lose your job or your house burns down or a loved one is hurt in a car accident? Challenges like these happen to everyone, but I’ve found that having a here-and-now relationship with God, through Jesus, makes them easier to bear.

That relationship has the best chance at growing when it includes attending church services. That’s part of my faith life; it means I’m included in a supportive community that’s based on something so much more important than a shared interest in extreme sports or wine tasting.

Here’s something else to ponder: Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney infamously spoke about “rolling the dice” during the early 1990s on constitutional negotiations with the country’s 10 provinces. His gamble failed and Canada’s constitution remains unsigned by Quebec.

Are you as brave – or as foolish – as Mr. Mulroney? Are you willing to risk “rolling the dice” that nothing will prevent you from sitting in a rocking chair, enjoying retirement and leisurely doing what it takes to  “secure a place in heaven”? Post an answer below and let’s have a conversation.

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