Friday, October 14, 2011

To Believe In

I’m reading Children of the Mind, yet another in the Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card. As with the last one or two, I haven’t loved the story, but I’m captured by the occasional interesting idea. 

There’s a moment early in the book when Ender/Andrew is talking with his wife, Novinha, at a time when she has withdrawn following the death of an adult son. Ender, I have to say, has been very committed to staying married, no matter how hard she makes it. At this point she has joined a convent of sorts, and he has gone there to join her. 

She shook her head. “You don’t believe in God, how’s that for starters?”

“I certainly do too believe in God,” said Ender, annoyed.

“Oh, you’re willing to concede God’s existence, but that’s not what I meant. I mean believe in him the way a mother means it when she says to her son, I believe in you. She’s not saying she believes that he exists—what is that worth?—she’s saying she believes in his future, she trusts that he’ll do all the good that is in him to do. She puts the future in his hands, that’s how she believes in him. You don’t believe in Christ that way, Andrew. You still believe in yourself. In other people…. You aren’t leaving anything up to God. You don’t believe in him.”

…“Maybe I don’t believe in Christ the way that you do,” said Ender. “But isn’t it enough that I believe in you, and you believe in him?” (pp. 29-30)

The argument between them isn’t as important as this description of believing in God. I think it’s a way of describing faith—believing so much that you act on the belief, trusting in the outcome. Not just believing in God’s existence, but believing God, trusting Him. And for those who can’t yet do that, but can trust someone else who does trust God, that is at least a step in the direction God is suggesting. 

It might not be possible to know, for example, that being honest in your business dealings will lead to financial success. A high level of financial success might not even happen. But being willing to act honestly in business may be the path to a more fully lived life, a happier life. And if not in this life, then in the life to come—God’s choice. But acting on that trust opens the way for God to offer blessings of abundant life that won’t come, with or without financial success, when the honest path isn’t followed. 

People who do not believe in God—do not trust Him—look for some other entity to trust. That makes them vulnerable to tyrants in a way that God-trusting people are not. If we know, as our founders did, that our rights come from God, we don’t give in to a power-hungry dictator who steps up and says, “Trust me; I’ll give you everything; just let me make all the decisions.”

I am reminded of these orchestrated protests exemplifying lack of civilization in cities around the country. These people do not trust God, to begin with. But in addition, they do not believe in themselves. They trust some super-entity, some government, to coerce outcomes that they want. They are sacrificing their time and work opportunities—real living, or making a living—trusting that some benevolent dictator will step in and meet their demands. From my point of view, believing in God is much more rational. 

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