Last week I went shopping with my wife. I am not complaining and only giving context to this story.
We were in the checkout lane surrounded by impulse buying bait. It was stuff you may never actually go shopping for, but it grabs your attention and reels you in as you wait for the cashier.
I noticed a series of wall hangings and plaques, and it occurred to me it’s amazing from where we as a culture draw our inspiration. I can’t remember what the quotes said, but hanging next to each other were quotes from Vincent van Gogh and the Dali Lama. It was hard for me to imagine two more polar opposites, and yet, there they were with perceived equality of inspirational stature.
When people use the word inspirational it is often in the context of something spiritual, something other worldly that lifts us out of the material world and gives us a perspective other than our own. Often it is religious, or at least connected to a facet of faith.
One of the criticisms about people of faith — and there are many — is that religion is a crutch for people who just can’t handle life and need to create an alternate reality. That is why when a phony news story broke about the American Psychological Association classifying religion as a mental disorder, it was accepted and magnified by many in the media and in social media. In fact, religion is a mental disorder and has its own Facebook page.
But on balance (pun intended) Facebook is a mental disorder that enjoys a huge presence on the web; perhaps another example of an alternate reality?
People of faith have always had and will continue to have detractors for one reason or another. The challenge is what should the response be? I like the response of the apostle Peter, not where he cuts a guy’s ear off, but later when he writes in 1 Peter 3:15 NIV: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
The word “hope” means to anticipate, usually with pleasure, expectation or confidence. In a world where hope is in short supply, faith then becomes the inspiration to navigate the uncertainty and heartache of the day. Faith then is more like a rudder than a crutch.
Upton is pastor of Tooele’s First Assembly of God Church.