Being a Christian, a Catholic, does not stop me from respecting people’s beliefs generally. The world has had and still has the blessing of great men with great minds from different religious backgrounds who have displayed insight. They have contributed positively to the evolution of the world.
It is very impressive to me the way and manner the gospel was taken to the world by twelve men who were ordinary judging by the standard of the world. How could twelve ordinary men face the world to conquer it? How could they have appeared before rulers and kings on account of their faith? How could a fisherman be the head of a group with the task of spreading the faith? In carrying out the task assigned to them by Jesus Christ, they were bold and courageous. In the face of persecution, they persevered. Most of the apostles were martyred. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were crucified; James the son of Zebedee was beheaded; Thomas was thrust with a spear; many others suffered a cruel death. Their death did not stop the message they were entrusted with from spreading; their followers continued the work. They refused to renounce their Lord, Jesus Christ, and were willing to die for the truth. Kingdoms have come and gone; empires have risen and fallen but the Church founded on the apostles has millions in her fold today. This is in spite of the persecution she has suffered over the ages. The task of the apostles was no little task. I believe that they would not have done it all just by themselves. I believe that there was a divine power in action with them.
When the persecution of followers of the way (Christians) started in Jerusalem, a good number fled to other cities. They carried with them the good news and made converts in the cities they fled to. One wonders if Jerusalem had been “cool” for them, whether they would have scattered among other nations when they did to preach to them. The persecution of men whose perceived crime was the conversion of men to a new way of life was evil. But God in his infinite power brought good out of that evil. I say this because far greater numbers of converts were made outside Jerusalem. Today I enjoy the fruits of those men in my faith. Quintus Tertullianus said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Christians ought to reflect what they do with this faith that has been handed down to them. Is this faith still precious to Christians? Do Christians still appreciate it? Does it have any influence on their way of life? Or on the contrary has it become a burden that tends to be displayed only in rites that has become a mechanized routine? Basically, our response to God is faith. Faith makes it possible for God to work through us. If anyone claims to have faith in God then he should be faithful to what God has commanded.
Not everybody is a Christian. There are people of other religious backgrounds as well as agnostics and atheists. There are also people who label the existence of God as ridiculous. Such a belief they interpret as a sign of weakness. They go to length to discredit the faith. They can discuss every other discipline – medicine, philosophy, politics – but when religion comes up they snap. Some Christians are intimidated by this set of people especially when they are well respected or experts in a particular field. They prefer to discuss faith or talk about Jesus only in the church. They keep “church things” to the church.
The second verse of Nigeria’s national anthem starts with “O God of creation, direct our noble cause.” This implies our fathers had faith in God. The founding fathers of America believed in God. There was no shame about it for them. Their faith in God influenced their actions. George Washington in a letter to the governors of the states on disbanding the army said, “I make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the state over which you preside, in His holy protection…” Thomas Jefferson said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty.” James Madison said, “Religion is the basis and foundation of government.” “Here is my creed. I believe in God, the Creator of the universe. That He governs it by His Providence,” said Benjamin Franklin. These men were not weak. “In God we trust” is the official motto of the United States of America. So long as we do not feel uncomfortable discussing other disciplines, we should not feel uncomfortable discussing faith.
One of my secondary school classmates expressed his disbelief of God’s existence. “How can somebody say there is God?” he would ask. One day he went to a cyber café and entered a website that has to do with darkness and Satan. Probably out of curiosity he registered as a member. He would not have considered it a big deal. Two weeks later he told me of a dream he had. He dreamt that the devil was with his fork and was dragging him to hell. I could sense uneasiness with him when he narrated his dream. He verbally objected the existence of God several months later. Although I heard of his death while he was schooling in the university from a few of my classmates, there are lots of people like him.
I experience God within me in ways I find difficult to express in words. I feel his presence when I am in a serene environment, for example, beholding nature’s trees and grasses or looking out to the sea. The organization of the universe is too impressive to be an accident. Our planet earth while rotating, bringing about day and night, revolves around the sun, giving us different seasons. There is a splendid order!
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution presumes the development of life from non-life. But I find it difficult to accept that life can develop from non-life. Darwin wrote, “…Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps.” Nevertheless, Darwin confessed, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”1
This write-up continues in the next post.