"I just don't understand you. How can anyone with your education, who reads as much as you, believe the things you believe? How can you possibly believe in God, a kindly 'grandfather-father-in-the-sky' when you see the suffering in the world caused by AIDS and tsunamis and famines and wars? You understand a lot about modern science - how can you deny evolution and believe there is anything more to the 'real you' than your body and your brain? You must know that miracles - violations of the laws of nature - are impossible. How can you believe that 'spooky' things like angels and demons are real ? And your claims to know absolute truth - don't get me started! Given everything we know about all the different religions and cultures in the world, how can you be so arrogant to believe that any one religion or morality is true and not merely a useful, culturally constructed fiction?"
Many of us are familiar with good questions such as these that are posed in the book "Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult" by Garrett J. De Wesse and J.P. Moreland. These are important philosophical questions that can best be answered by making the effort to read a good book like Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult, or, "The Case for the Creator" by Lee Strobel. But there is another set of questions that are much more personal, and they are the focus of this website. Questions like:
"I have a gnawing sense there might be more to this life than meets the eye... could it be that there is some God, or some bigger purpose for my life? I am skeptical about organized religion, but could there be something to learn from ancient spirituality ?"
Here at South Ridge, we aren't so interested in religion as in experiencing a relationship with God. We are convinced that there is more meaning and purpose to life than what we can conjure up ourselves. Could it be that God is the one
"... from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name ?" (Ephesians 3:15)
Many of us have a gnawing sense that there must be something more to life than what we are experiencing right now. Some of us are seeking a different way to live our lives. The following image may be helpful. Imagine that long ago a prince or princess who was kidnapped as a baby and then raised in squalor and abuse by a gang of thieves. Such a child wouldn't know who they really were. They wouldn't have a sense of connection with their roots. They might act much like those who had stolen them. They could not imagine the nobility of character and true joy that was supposed to mark their lives. They might settle for second rate pleasures and seek to become "comfortably numb", or they might go in the opposite direction, living frantic and fragmented lives in an attempt to be "responsible." Such a child might still hunger for the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Imagine what it would feel like to discover that this child was ... you. What if our culture, our experiences and our own foolish mistakes have acted like a gang of thieves, blinding us to who we were always meant to be? What if it is you who has an amazing calling on your life?
But who is it that is calling you? We think
it is God. And calling is the right word, for in the New Testament, Saint
Paul says it is not so much that he feels he knows God, but that God knows him. Have you ever
been completely alone and yet had the sense of being known? Do you ever
have the sense that God is calling out to you - not in a shout, but in a whisper
that is all around you ?
We believe that there can come a point when a person senses God's presence and power in their lives. But even then it is costly and difficult to live out our God-given identities as His children. It is costly and difficult to strive for noble character, to be a living channel of God's grace to people who drive us nuts. It means taking our eyes off ourselves and seeking after God with all our might. It means learning to live in his ways. It can't be done alone. It is God who changes us by His Spirit as we yield to Him. It is not about trying to be good enough to please God, it is about accepting the Grace filled life that God , even in this very moment, is standing there offering to us. And one of the greatest joys of life is finding friends who are also on the same journey, who can encourage one another on the way. God uses community to call and teach us.
That's what we are about at South Ridge.
We don't have everything worked out, we don't have all the answers, we still struggle and doubt and mess things up. But we all sense that God is breaking into our lives, that Jesus Christ is who he said he was, and that he is calling us to come follow Him on a journey. Not religion, but a way of living in the world. Jesus said:
Turn from your old ways of living life -