Our hearts long for purpose and for something bigger. What is this something bigger? Why do we even bother about God?
According to recent research by ‘McCrindle’, only 37% of Australians actually think God exists. That means only a minority of Australians are believers, although a lot of people are just not sure. People who do believe God exists are often pejoratively labeled as God botherers. So why should we bother about God?
Julie-Anne Laird joined this conversation to share some of her insights. Julie-Anne works with young adults on university campuses and is a canon for church planting with the Anglican Diocese in Melbourne.
Longing for Something Bigger
Despite the statistics, Julie-Anne says she is always surprised by how many people consider themselves spiritual. There is a growing interest at the moment in terms of people thinking about there being something bigger to life. And a lot of the time, they don’t know what to do with that feeling.
“When I meet people who don’t really believe in God, it often started when they were little, with God not answering their prayers,” says Julie-Anne. “I think that leads down a trajectory to then thinking, okay, I won’t believe. We all have a longing for something else or something bigger.”
There are some things in this world we can’t get enough of that point us towards something bigger.
We often have a drab view of the eternal life, but when Jesus was actually here, He did things like turning water into wine. We’re always striving for that something better, but just knowing God gives us that.
“I think it’s easy for Christians to work out what God is like because of Jesus,” continues Julie-Anne. There’s something that draws you to Him. The Bible is a way of getting to know God. Jesus’ coming was a way that we got to know God.
If you were God, how would you reveal yourself to ordinary people?
If God is trying to reach out to you and He wants you to get to know him, how would He do that?”
Pleasure, Purpose, Pain
The question of God doesn’t disappear, even though there is a rising tide of secularism in this country. We long for things like a bigger purpose and meaning, and we need hope.
Knowing God makes sense and there’s something really awesome in the fact that He’s there all the time.
“Our society really puts a lot of emphasis on pleasure or fun,” Julie-Anne says. “You see that with young people in terms of things they want to experience. We do have this pleasure pain paradigm. We look for pleasure and we’re trying to avoid pain. The problem is when it doesn’t match up and our life isn’t all fun. Jesus said there are two really important things in life. One is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and the second is to love others. Looking out beyond ourselves and thinking of others is good for us.”
A relationship with God puts things in the right perspective. It shifts how we see others because God really loves other people too. It helps us know who we are because God actually knows us. We can’t hide who we are. We can flourish in ourselves because God loves us so much.
Finding the Reality
“God’s not imaginary.
You’re actually connecting with something bigger than yourself. It’s based on a God who revealed himself to us, and we can know Him and be in a relationship with Him.”
There are ways of knowing what is true. Jesus helps us know that God is a reality, but people also have experiences of God. We can work out from our experiences that we can trust God, and it gives us peace. This is where faith in many respects becomes liberating. Because if we have challenges internally, we have something external that we can rely on and trust.
“The really surprising thing about Jesus is that He loves us whether we deserve it or not. And that shifts religion from being a moral based thing, to be being about the graciousness of God,” says Julie-Anne.
To listen to the rest of this conversation with Julie-Anne and Robert about why we need God, click below.