3/5/13 Santiago about 45
I stopped a man on the sidewalk named Santiago with a question about his spiritual beliefs. He had an interesting mix of a Catholic background in Mexico, and an atheistic influence from his years as a student in Moscow, Russia. He doesn’t believe in God and claimed he only accepts truth that can be scientifically proven, so I asked him, “But if the God of the universe could be predicted and measured according to the scientific method, would he really be God?” Because God is a personality and not a physical property like electricity, we shouldn’t expect to be able to predict His actions. Later as we talked I asked him, “What would it take for you to believe God exists? What would He have to do to prove Himself to you?” I often ask this to atheists partly to show them how ridiculous their demands are. Who are we to make any demands of God? But Santiago answered in an interesting way. Instead of talking about needing to see fantastic physical miracles – like the Pharisees asking Jesus for a sign from heaven (Matt. 16) - Santiago said he would need to see a miracle of a different sort. “I want to see an end to all this suffering and pain, and I want to see the Church being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.” He went on to talk about some of the abuses of the Catholic Church, and the passion with which he spoke led me to believe that he wasn’t just using this as an excuse for his unbelief. In short he was saying the biggest reason for his unbelief was the behavior of those who claimed to follow Christ but didn’t act like it. I told him how Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commands” and how He had predicted that many false prophets and teachers would come in His name, claiming to follow Him. Many people like Santiago are watching the gathering of Cardinals in Rome to pick the next Pope, and the abuses done by many in leadership is on their minds. As always, if we hope to share our faith we will do well to avoid being like those who claim to follow Jesus, but don’t act like it.