A few months ago the British Humanist Society paid for an advertising campaign on the side of the nation's buses which read 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life'. I was in two minds when I heard about this. On the one hand, I was concerned about the effect this would have on young minds who have had little opportunity to explore their own understanding of God. Religion is taught in schools (by law) but young people are rarely given the chance to explore faith in any real depth, thus denying them the opportunity to make an informed decision. In their confusion, they are likely to follow the crowd or to accept what seems to be the easy option. And of course, declaring a faith God is far from easy in today's society. On the other hand, I was delighted because the advert read 'There is probably no God'. Here is a society of atheists who, when it came to the crunch, could not quite bring themselves to publicly deny the existence of God. Reflecting on why that might be, I couldn't decide if it was the fear of the unknown that held them back, or if it was their conscience reminding them that they may actually be wrong.
I was also encouraged by the rest of the statement; 'Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' - because that is what the Church has been (or at least should have been) saying for the past two thousand years. When we discover that God is there, that he loves us and wants to share our lives with us, to walk with us and support us through the good times as well as the bad - it's then that our worry disappears, especially our fear of dying. The fear of death, the fear of an eternal oblivion, is the dominant concern of our subconscious. It is only when we remove that fear that we are truly able to 'stop worrying and enjoy life'.
But how do we do that? How do we come to an understanding of God which allows us to believe in him and to accept him and his love? Well, that will vary from person to person but for me, it was the realisation that God does not give up on anyone, ever. Not even Richard Dawkins, ardent campaigner for atheism and the spokesman for the Humanist's adverts on the buses! God's desire to be with us is so great that he even took the phenomenal risk of coming amongst us as his Son, Jesus Christ. And what a risk that was, because we rejected him and everything that he stood for and killed him in the most painful and humiliating way possible. That's what Good Friday is all about. I have to say that, being a mere human, if people did that to my son, I would want to annihilate the lot of them! But not God, his love is so strong that he just refuses to give up on us. Instead, he raised Jesus from the dead (which is what Easter Day is all about)
and promises that anyone who listens to what Jesus has to say and then accepts him as the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour, will also be raised from the dead, sharing eternity with Him, rather than facing an eternity of oblivion.
The Humanists were right to hedge their bets by saying 'There is probably no God' but they missed the point in going on to say 'Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' because the only way we can be free to truly enjoy life, is by knowing that there is a God who takes away the sting and fear of death and replaces it with a peace that is almost impossible to describe. It is my prayer that this Easter
you will have the opportunity to encounter God, to hear something of his love for you and to hear him say to you 'Now, stop worrying and enjoy your life'.
With all good wishes,