6/1/17 Ehsan about 40
He grew up in a very religious family, and still identifies by his family's faith. But lately something just doesn't seem right, and he can't really put his finger on it.
He had been happy to talk about it with me, a complete stranger on the sidewalk, as I asked some good questions and offered a listening ear. But he has been losing faith in what he had once believed in. His idea of God seems distant and impersonal. He doesn't feel like he has a purpose in life, nor does he see a future beyond the grave. He no longer believes he has an eternal soul, and the family faith just seems to serve a utilitarian purpose - to keep people in line with promises of reward or threats of punishment in the afterlife. Religious activities seem burdensome, and he wonders if his small amount of religious devotion is good enough. He believes religion is good for the masses, but that he is beyond all that - that he can be good without God or eternity because he sees himself as educated and self-aware.
This may sound like a depressing story of a young person from a Christian home losing their faith, but Ehsan was Muslim, an American but from a family that had emigrated from Serbia. I believe his disillusionment comes from a religion based on endless works to serve a condemning and demanding God. I appreciated his honesty and openess about his doubts, and his willingness to hear about the God of the Bible. A God who is too holy to accept our trite offerings of piety to pay the debt we owe to his perfect justice, but a God who is too loving to leave us without hope. A God willing to sacrifice His one and only Son that He might become the Father of many, and a God willing to allow us to personally relate to Him as our heavenly Father. A God who brings us beyond a life of endlessly pursuing self-centered peace and happiness, but instead gives us the higher purpose of honoring and living for Him forever.
Ehsan seemed very intrigued as I compared this view of God with the one he had grown up with. Cultural taboos kept him from taking the Christian literature I offered, but he had heard the Gospel through my words. Many will say I shouldn't feel glad about the disillusionment of another toward the faith they have grown up in. But I say one step away from Islam can be a step toward a right relationship with God the Father through faith in God the Son. And I am sure he isn't the only disillusioned Muslim out there who would appreciate a conversation like this one.