Faith in the Secular City

In our highly secularized world, there is an increasing number of non-believers. But there is still a widespread belief in the existence of God. About two thirds of humanity believe in some form of a deity.  And the fact is that the poor are more likely to believe in God than those living in more affluent societies. The poor and the oppressed, heavily burdened by the travails of their lives, often turn to religion for comfort and deliverance from their misery. They long and hope for the god who would bring glad tidings to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, and libration for the oppressed. Thus, Marx would declare religion as the opium of the people and the modern-day secularist would dismiss such beliefs as mere superstitions.

There is indeed something about affluence and achievements that tend to deaden one’s sense of the sacred and the divine. If one can secure his physical comfort and material ease by his own efforts, it is more difficult to find space for someone called ‘God’ in one’s life. If one finds confidence and self-sufficiency in one’s achievements,  then there is no real need to invoke some unseen powers to help one in his quest for achievements. In the end, man is his own god.

Still, in many serious discussions today, faith in God remains to be a constructive force for good and can have a positive influence in promoting social change, specially on a global scale. In the bigger scheme of things, man remains inadequate and indeed poor in facing up to the challenges of life and its myriad problems, including those created by men themselves. Why have wars and conflicts remained with us throughout human history? Because we have been poor at being brothers and neighbors to one another. We are in need of deliverance from ourselves and this deliverance can come only from outside humanity. Why are there still billions going hungry and naked when we have the resources to feed and clothe everyone? Because we are so poor in learning how to truly care and share. We need redemption from our greed and selfishness that can only come from Someone who is willing to give and share even to the point of emptying Himself.

One a personal basis, there are people who have endeared themselves to me and for whom I would gladly give my life. I did not ask for them nor really sought them out. Somehow they came into my life or I came into theirs. There are times I want to go on doing things for them but my body gives up. I entrust my loved ones instead to my God. There are times when my spirit flags and I get depressed or discouraged I can’t even do things for myself. I entrust myself and my loved ones to God. There are times in my life when reason fails me and I am left with nothing but a voice within that says, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” He is not the product of my imaginings who I turn to when I come to a dead end. He is Someone who indeed brings into my life glad tidings of joy, sight to my blurred vision of life, liberations from my inadequacies, pains and tribulations. He sets me free from the chains that would tie me down to a senseless existence. I know because, unbelievable it may seem, I have seen Him at work in my life.

Lord, I love your commands.
Psalm 119

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Luke 4:16–19

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