I realize that I've let this conversation between Rick and Charlie lie fallow for a couple of months. Apologies! Here's a quick review...
Having been laid off after many years of faithful service at his place of employment, Charlie (C) is bitter, having felt betrayed by the company he invested so much of himself in. Rick, (R) has suggested that Charlie is at a critical crossroads. One road leads to cynicism and bitterness. The other road leads to illumination and wisdom.
Charlie concludes part 4 by suggesting to Rick that people not only get bitter over career disappointments, but also over religious disappointments . Sometimes church leaves people just as bitter, if not more, than employers. Rick replies.....
R: True, many have walked away from Jesus and the church, disillusioned. Others, though, have not. They’ve discovered that Jesus, whom I’ll call ‘#100,’ has led them into a new realm.
C: A new realm? Do you mean heaven? Easy to say that, given that we can’t ask them about it…
R: No, not heaven. It’s more practical than that. I’d call it a new life experience.
C: So, this #100 to which you refer has led people into a new life experience, eh? I have no idea what you are talking about. Sounds kinda like an Amway sales pitch.
R: Oh, I don’t quite know how to describe it but I will try. I guess it means they intuitively understand that they matter to God, that they are more self-centered and self-absorbed than they previously imagined. That God not only forgives them for their self-absorbed, self-centered lives, but that he actually loves them in spite of it and that he will wean them from it. Then there is the matter of purpose. They understand that they have been invited to play a critical role in a cosmic drama, which I guess is a fancy way of saying that now their life holds a mission…..it’s not a mistake.
C: So, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that #100 has given them a new way to look at life? Like a divine optometrist of some sort?
R: Yes, but there’s much more. He has given them what deep down, we all want, if we are to be truly fulfilled.
C: Money? Stuff? Women? Power? Position? Am I feelin’ ya?
R: Hardly. A relationship with the one who made us, who loves us, who paid for us, who remakes us, who uses us and who will never abandon or turn on us.
C: A relationship? That’s it? In a world that offers so much more....that’s all that Christianity offers us? A relationship?!
R: Because, in the end, that's all that matters. A relationship is all we have ever been after. it’s all we have been made for. Money, women, power, things, vacations, good times….they are all attempts to distract us from, or to assuage, the pain that the absence of God creates.
C: It’s that simple, eh? When all is said and done, it’s God we are looking for.
R: Maybe that explains why those things that we use to distract us….or alleviate the pain of God’s absence will always, in the end, leave us disappointed. They're not up to the task.
C: Where does one begin? Or, better, how, exactly, does one begin?
[to be continued]
All the best,