How on earth can you answer this question? It is the 21st century after all; surely God doesn’t hate you enough to make you say something so ridiculous and old-fashioned that you will lose all your friends! In the gospels, Jesus was asked many difficult questions and he frequently responded with a question before answering more fully. He did this so often that I think we are probably meant to notice it and learn something.
We live in a context of spiritual longing. Many people are searching for that which will satisfy an inner craving for meaning and significance. The artist Damian Hirst recently said this: “Why do I feel so important when I’m not? Nothing is important and everything is important. I do not know why I am here but I am glad that I am. I’d rather be here than not. I am going to die and I want to live forever, I can’t escape that fact, and I can’t let go of that desire.”
I found myself watching the Channel 4 programme One Born Every Minute this week. Over the course of an hour I laughed cried and winced as we watched an incredibly diverse selection of women giving birth to their babies in NHS hospitals. While the church in China sees someone become a Christian every 30 seconds and the hospitals in our own country see a baby born every minute I started to wonder how often new birth is occurring here in Britain.
Has anyone ever told you that your faith is a ‘crutch?’ I remember getting into a cab outside a central London church. The cabbie took one look at my Bible and launched into his opinion of Christianity. He explained to me that belief in God is a crutch for weak, pathetic people who don’t have the strength to take responsibility for their own lives. When I answered, “Thank you very much”, with just a hint of irony, he blustered on with, “Well, I’m just saying it for your own good. A girl like you doesn’t need religion!”