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In matters of faith, many people occupy the spiritual borderlands – a no man’s land in a region of conflict, a disputed territory in between both sides of conflicting armies, serving as a buffer zone. They occupy the borderlands because they cannot set aside the feeling that there must be a spiritual reality out there that must exist beyond everyday routine of life.
If we remain in the spiritual borderland, what on earth are we missing? Is there really a God? Is there life after death? Is religious faith only a crutch? Or a path to something authentic? Does religious faith make sense in a world of the internet? Does faith delude us into seeing a world that doesn’t exist? Or does faith reveal the existence of a world we cannot see without it?
No society in history has attempted to live without a belief in the sacred, not until modern times. We now live in a state of confusion about the big questions that have always engaged the human race, questions of meaning, purpose and morality. Eliminating the sacred changes, the story of our lives. In times of greater faith, people saw themselves as individual creations of a loving God who, regardless of how it may look at any given moment, has final control over a world destined for restoration. Now, people with no faith find themselves lost and alone. With no overarching story, or meta-narrative, to give promise to the future and meaning to the present.
If God exists, and if our planet represents God’s work of art, we will never grasp why we are here without taking that reality into account. Perhaps it is because we lack contemplation. The goal of contemplation is to see life as God sees it, a unity of two worlds (spiritual and material) and not divisions. We tend to approach life as a sequence rather than as a series of moments. We schedule our time, set goals, and march onward towards their achievement. Phone calls, or any unscheduled event, is viewed as jarring interruptions. How different from the style of Jesus, who often let people – interruptions – determine his daily schedule. He gave full attention to the person before him, whether it be a Roman officer, or a nameless woman with a hemorrhage of blood. And he drew lasting spiritual lessons from the most ordinary things: wild-flowers, wheat crops, vineyards, sheep, wedding, family.
All of life involves a clash between impulse and inhibition, between our fallen nature and the image of God. A sacred view of life calls for simple trust that the One who created the human creature has our ultimate good in mind. In his book, Philip Yancey invites us to join him on a journey of discovery and consider “rumors of another world” that could point the way to a new life of beauty, purpose and freedom.