'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.' Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
As we all know there are several translations of the bible in the English language alone, and I personally like to quote often from the New Jerusalem bible. But for the purpose of this post I chose to go with the New International Version because I think it defines faith as it is described in the first verse of chapter eleven in the book of Hebrews. The wording is simplistic, and the definition above is pretty self explanatory.
I am often asked what it would take to make me come back to Jesus, and the simplest reply I can provide is evidence. I don't want a vision, or a divinely inspired dream, or some self proclaimed prophet of God stopping me on the street to tell me what God wants me to know. That is not even close to the sort of evidence that I think would be acceptable. What kind of god requires such a great commitment and doesn't even have the decency to show the world that he is true and real in every sense of the word?
When I was a fundamentalist I worked hard every day to try to imitate Christ or as we used to say to be as Christ like as possible in my daily living. I wasn't content to just talk the talk, I honestly believed that salvation went beyond talk and that your deeds were just as important as your professed faith. The bible taught that as believers we were the "light of the world" and that it was our jobs as believers to let our light shine forth in the darkness that was this world. Matthew 5:14-16 (NJB)
Being a "true" Christian requires a lot of self sacrifice which is made evident in that by accepting Christ, you are no longer living for yourself but rather putting God's will ahead of your own. That is what is meant by being called a servant of the Lord, you are called to serve and obey his will and his commands. Things that to the rest of us heathens seem quite ordinary like fornication (premarital sex), masturbating, drinking till you puke your guts out, dating multiple women/men, etc. are all sins before the Lord.
So here is my problem: If I am to make such a sacrifice; then I demand evidence! Nothing else will do. What kind of evidence? A real experience with God that would occur while I am fully alert, awake, and aware. Something that not only I will be able to see or hear but that maybe a lot of other people would too. I don't know, maybe a cloud or pillar of fire which followed the Hebrews day and night from which God at times spoke to Moses and everyone trembled in fear at the foot of mount Sinai.
That's actually pretty good I think! During broad daylight a huge dark cloud would appear in the sky and if you are on the other side of the world it would become day in the middle of the night and they too would be able to see the cloud. And suddenly a few moments of loud thunder and lightning just to get everyone's attention. Then the voice of God himself speaking to the world simultaneously telling us his true name and what he wants from us. If God did this monthly or annually for the new crop of nonbelievers then I think I would probably fall on my knees and accept that I was wrong.
On the other hand, to blindly sacrifice the only life I have to live based on faith in one of the thousands of religions that currently plague this earth with stupid beliefs and superstitions is not an option for me. Life is too short for some of us and so we have to make the most of it in the time that we have left to enjoy it. I don't see the logic in sacrificing my life for superstitions, myths, and fables of the past. I personally say with my fellow nonbelievers in the bible who were cursed to hell in Luke 12: 19,20 (NJB)
19 and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time."20 But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?"
Jesus in this story is chastising the man for laying up his earthly treasures since all these thing perish, instead of seeking the treasures of "heaven." The only point the author made was that when we die we basically can't take nothing with us. So it's better to waste our time seeking a piece of the pie in the sky than to enjoy ourselves here and now. The imaginings of heavenly bliss and eternal joy don't mean anything to me if God himself can't even take the time out to prove his existence to mankind in an undeniable and unmistakable way. So contrary to the definition of faith I don't hope for things I cannot see. I set goals and work towards achieving them in the real world and my reward is my meeting or exceeding those goals I set for myself in my daily living.
When I'm dead it will all be done and I don't care for nor do I believe in an eternity either in hell or in heaven which in my mind are just two imaginary places made up by men. I wont be around haunting anyone although that idea seems like it could be some fun. I will just cease to exist and join good old mother earth as fertilizer.