Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hide or seek?

It remains one of the most remarkable and nonsensical legal convictions of all time. In 2006 Marcus Einfeld, a former Federal Court Judge, contested a $72 speeding fine on the grounds that he was not driving his car, but had loaned it to a friend. In the end it turned out that the friend had died some three years earlier and Einfeld was convicted of knowingly making a false statement under oath. He pleaded guilty to perjury and perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to three years in prison. Einfeld paid a high price for trying to save $72. He was recently released from prison after serving two years of his sentence and he commented that, sadly, in prison he had 'lost God'.  Einfeld put it like this:
"I grew up believing I had some capacity to communicate and I lost it. I felt bereaved about that for quite a while. I felt that at the time I needed Him (God), He wasn't there.''

Einfeld is not the first person to have lost his faith in prison, but surprisingly there have been a great many people who have found faith in God while in prison. Likewise in the theatre of war some people abandon their faith in God, bitter that such conflict and suffering seems inconsistent with any understanding of a God of love. However just as many people find faith in the heat of battle and suffering, convinced that they have no other hope in the face of the evils of humanity. So too sickness, misadventure, financial struggles and grief do lead some to abandon their faith, while many others find solace and strength in the security of God, when everything around them is insecure. Even really good times, good news and exceptional circumstances lead some people to abandon a God they seem to no longer need, while the same joy drives other people to praise, thanksgiving and faith.

So maybe our circumstances are less important to faith than our attitude. Humility, trust and an acceptance that God is greater than us seems to be a path to faith in any circumstance. Pride, foolishness and bitterness seem to cloud the mirror of faith, such that God seems to disappear. God seems quite accessible when genuinely sought, but remote when we demand or expect. The Bible encourages us to seek, but when seeking is replaced by demanding, then we have dethroned God and, not surprisingly, He appears remarkably absent.

In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  Psalm 10: 4

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