Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Last weekend, thanks to the financial support of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools, I was able to attend the Christian Schools Canada Leadership Conference. It was an excellent conference that inspired me, as a Christian leader, to continue to work hard to serve God in my role at STCCS. The keynote speaker, James Smith, had some particularly powerful and challenging points to share with us. I would like to share my thoughts on what he had to say about living in a secular world.
The first point that he made about the secular world is that it is not the same as an atheist world. There is actually a very large and critical difference between the two; however, we often think they are the same. An atheist does not believe in God or any type of supreme being. That is very different than a secularist. In fact, it is pretty rare that, when talking with non-believers, you will hear people deny flat out the possibility of God. In fact, most people will say that they believe in "something," a supreme being, fate, a creator... something. Quotes about spirituality are written on Starbucks coffee cups; Eat, Pray, Love (a book about spirituality) is a New York Times best seller, and Oprah Winfrey seemed to be preaching about spirituality just as often as she was interviewing people, much to the delight of her audiences. Spirituality is very alive and prevalent in our world.
There is a wonderful opportunity here. We are not, as many perceive, at war with our society. In fact, we are really dealing with a huge number of fence-sitters: not willing to completely commit to God; but, also not completely willing to abandon Him. Most people actually want to believe in something bigger than themselves, but haven't been convinced yet about the truth. If we are patient (this was one of my favourite points that Jamie Smith made), very, very patient, and paying attention, we will find ourselves in conversations with non-believers about God, about the meaning and purpose of life. About death and eternity, justice, good and evil. There is opportunity to talk about hard things and who is in control of it all. And, every once in awhile, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, our words will seep into the souls of the people we are talking with and doubt will creep in.
Doubt is actually the cornerstone of a secular age. Secularism tries to convince us that everything is under suspicion. And, to be honest, it has been successful. We live in a world of doubt. Christians, from time to time, in our humanness, doubt the existence of God and eternity. On the other hand, the flip-side is that secular people often doubt their own beliefs and wonder "what if there is a God and eternity." Secular doubt is, ironically, the beginnings of faith. And it is in these moments of doubt that we need to be ready and willing to join in the conversation and share our faith.