I had the A/C guy out to my house yesterday to check my air-condition system for efficiency. It has problems, but nothing that a few thousand dollars won’t fix. I got into an interesting discussion with the guy they sent out. Our conversation was mostly about hunting and fishing, because that is what he was waaaaaaaayyyyy into.
But he made some comment about going to church, so I asked him what church he went to. He didn’t really answer, but said he was raised a Lutheran. I got the impression he was a little disillusioned with the church and with faith. He made some comment about evangelists suggesting they all needed to be taken out and disposed of. When I asked why, he argued that it was religion that was responsible for everything wrong with the world.
According to the A/C guy, religion is the cause of wars, oppression, famine, disease, slavery, racism, poverty, root rot, high cholesterol, bad gas mileage, athletes foot and the 1990’s fascination with “boy bands.” As a result, he has said “bye, bye, bye” to faith. This is a brief synopsis of what was about a five minute tirade.
Here was my response. I asked him; “So what if I had a magic wand that I could wave to rid the world of all religions and religious writings? What if I could make Lennon’s imagination come true and there were no religions in the world? More than that, what if I could make it so that when we wake up tomorrow, all memory of, or knowledge of any religious notion was removed from the collective human psyche? Would that then mean that the world would be free from wars, oppression, famine, root rot and boy bands?”
His answer was a very honest, “No. Of course not.”
I then suggested that his answer reflected a deeper understanding of the problem than did his earlier suggestion of religion as the source of all evil. The problem of evil is one that originates with humans – all humans regardless of religion or lack of it. The problem is the human heart which is selfish, prideful, arrogant and fearful. Why would it surprise us that humans would take something as beautiful and true as the reality of God and twist it to suit and serve the nature of the very broken human heart? That’s not God’s fault. That’s not religion’s fault.
About that time he finished writing up the ticket and I finished with the check to cover it. He seemed reluctant to carry our discussion further, so there was more polite talk than genuine conversation going on after that. Anyway, join me in saying a prayer for the A/C guy, and for the people like him you will meet this week.
All of this served to remind me again how we keep looking for something outside of ourselves to blame for what’s wrong with the world, while we keep looking into our own heart to figure out how to make it right. We have it exactly backwards. Our heart is the problem. The solution is outside of us in the grace that only comes from God in Jesus and his ability to give us a new heart that beats in rhythm with his.