Kierkegaard makes a fascinating argument. He praises Abraham in his book “Fear and Trembling” because he had “faith for this life.” He states, “Had his faith only been for a future life it would indeed have been easier to cast everything aside in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong.” What a powerful condemnation of the ascetics who spend their lives cloistered away, suffering for Christ and waiting for Heaven. What a powerful statement that it takes true Faith to believe in this life. I think as I look at the pain and suffering, the struggles and disappointments I can fully grasp his point. It does take faith to believe in lasting joy in this life. It many ways it would be easier to give up on life and just wait for Heaven. It a very brutal way, that is what suicide is about. It’s the giving up of any hope that life is worth living.
I think the Health and Wealth folks were on to something but they perverted and cheapened something that was far deeper and more meaningful. The truth that God is truly invested in our lives and believes in us. In the midst of our darkest hour there is a God who believes we will triumph and build a meaningful and enjoyable life. That is a spiritual act and an act of mutual communion. It is an acknowledgment of the gift God has given and also the way in which God is invested in us. It would be simple if God merely demanded that we live a spiritual life and cast off all that is secular. Believe me I attempted this life and failed utterly to live.
God does demand. God’s will is that we live, that we truly live. If his love is ruthless, it is in this area, there is no quarter offered, death is not an option for us. Rather as the poet says, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” He demands that we live, truly live. Not go through the motions, not be slaves to ritual, but free from the “shoulds” of culture and self-abuse.
He seems to have a special place in his heart for the sloppy life. The one that wrestles with him, blows it all, takes risks. He gives us the story of the Prodigal son to show the dangers in being the older son, he warns us about burying our talents, and then he hails Abraham who goes off and gets Hagar because he couldn’t wait any longer and David who is about as sloppy as you get.
God does demand, it is not an easy demand at all, it takes courage and faith. Courage to step beyond our fears, courage to test God, courage to wrestle with God, faith to believe that he is truly loving, faith to believe that he really does value this life, and faith to believe that whatever Jesus did, it paved the way to be real kids of God.