Faith

Should God be a part of one’s life? Or should he take up all of it?

By MICHAEL HAYES

It is often said that one’s faith is an important part of one’s life. I am not sure if this can be true.

If our existence, our life’s meaning and our sole purpose in life can only be found in a relationship with God, we cannot afford to make faith and religion merely a part of our lives.

Of course, we do this all the time. We tend to compartmentalize. It makes life simpler. Some pray occasionally, some go to church regularly, some participate in Bible studies and service ministries — these are the parts of our lives that we refer to when we talk about our faith or religion.

But when we claim to be Christians, are we referring to the whole of our lives or only a part?

We do not live in a sitcom world in which the topic of religion is broached once a season as a minor inconvenience for some character or another. We live in a world imbued with meaning and moral significance, and we must respond to it.

C.S. Lewis used the analogy of a war — we are in a constant battle against sin. Our lives as a whole must be directed toward the war effort if we are to survive.

I once had a Cistercian monk as a philosophy professor who revealed that he used the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the immoralist, anti-Christian philosopher, as spiritual reading. One of Nietzsche’s most famous parables was that of the death of God.

“God is dead,” a madman screamed in the streets, “and we have killed him!”

This monk went on to explain an important insight from this parable is that God no longer provides meaning to the whole of our lives. In the days of pagan superstition, or the days of God’s covenant with Israel, or the medieval balance of faith and reason, humans understood that God (or gods) permeated the whole of creation. It is the relation to the divine that gives human life meaning.

Not so for us. And of course those in previous ages were not perfectly pious, either.

But in a world in which our attention is divided between work, friends, family, activities, school and a whole slew of other demands, it is very easy for our relationship with God to become a mere part of our lives.

But God wants the whole of us, and we can only give unity to our disjointed lives by making him the focus of the whole of our lives.

Nietzsche said that God is dead. For the Christian, this is nothing new. But if God has risen from this death, we ought to respond with our whole lives.

Michael Hayes is one of The Star’s new lineup of Faith Walkers. He can be reached at faith@kcstar.com.

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