12 December 2018
ADVERTISING A NON-GOD!
The campaign “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life” by atheists has had some fascinating spinoff.
I guess the bus company is free to choose also as to what it will put on its buses. But surely the advertisement, by its content, implies something about how the people concerned think about their god. The god they are suggesting sounds like some sort of image of their own making, a bogey man with which to frighten children [and adults?], a god that makes you worry and not enjoy life. As for the existence of this atheist god, they would find the biblical prophet Jeremiah in full agreement with them - only he didn't say "probably" [and I wonder at the slight hesitation in the advertisement] - Jeremiah [Jer10:1 - 5] was definite about superstition and the gods which people manufacture.
"Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good."
In other words - forget the superstition, stop manipulating and making your own version of a god which you then start to give worth to [worship] and try to placate. Good grief! it doesn't even exist, its an idol. There is no resemblance to the living God.
The God whom Jesus shows us comes to us, gives us worth, and offers us life to celebrate and enjoy.
These ads do not talk about the self-revealing, creating, loving, living God. So why get upset about the ads? The atheists are giving more credence to a non-existent god than anyone and spending a huge amount of money to do so.
The good thing about these advertisements is that they remind Christians to reject that view of as simply nothing to do with the God of Jesus. In other words tell the real good news.
Isn't it Jesus that said "Do not be anxious" and told stories of returning sons, lost sheep being found, outcasts being restored to community and people who had given up hope finding new life.
More insidious are their advertisements about letting children choose. Choice needs knowledge. Children brought up with no understanding that there is more than they can imagine, that the superstitions which are part of this world have no power over them, and that money and possessions are not the ultimate reason for being, are deprived of their greatest inheritance - the knowledge of God and God's love for them. And for parents and those caring for children, the best gift we can give our children is the experience of living faith. Of course people can make good choices and be good people without being outwardly religious but we act from our beliefs and children need to be given the chance to believe and find their real treasure lies in God. How can they choose unless they know what the choices are?
So if you find yourself behind a bus with these ads about a non existent god, say "I agree because I'm a follower of Christ and I know that the real living God teaches how to love and live and bring light into the world for everyone".
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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