… Of course! Yet, I am highly fascinated by the totally reposing trust a child has in her parents. A trust that they are in the lookout for her wellbeing at all time, only for the reason that she sees their love for her in all their actions towards her, or other. So, even when the parents are not looking, she believes she would never come to harm. This always makes me empathize with Jesus’ admonition to receive the Kingdom of God like a child does – Mark 10:14-15. Alas, imagine my shock when I discovered that there are people who do not believe in God, or in any other god.
When I was a child in catechism, learning about the Catholic faith, I was taught that ‘Faith is a supernatural gift from God which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed’. At that time, they were just words to memorize and pass my tests so I could become a communicant [receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist] and then a confirmed Christian [receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation]. Having faith at the time was not an issue because I was born into a family that attended the Church [where I was baptized], and so, I observed and emulated the Christian worship and practices, as if they were natural to life. It was also as a child of about 7 or 8 years that God revealed Himself to me in a room where I personally asked Him who He is. Mine was a childhood journey into faith, and I thought it was a natural phenomenon to have faith in God; until I realized, almost, if not, at an adult age, that not everyone believes in God.
Why did it take so long for me to know that some people do not believe in God? It startles me even now! The community I lived and grew up in, had people who believe in God, either as Christians or Muslims, but not sure if there were pagans, but certainly no atheist as far as I knew. This was likewise in the schools I attended; we prayed and sang hymns daily, as well as recited some Muslim prayers on Fridays, before classes and breaks. The books and magazines I read had elements of faith in God. It was normal to go to the Basic Christian Community meetings and Block Rosary prayer gatherings, or even attended the Pentecostal churches miracle crusades that were beginning to pop up and grow during those late 80s and early 90s.
So, it was really disconcerting to eventually discover that there were people who do not believe in the existence of God; not the pagans, but atheists. However, with time I got to appreciate the GRACE that led me to faith. If I had not bothered to ask God who He is, and so, not experience His Presence with me on the day He revealed Himself to me, would my faith be as shallow as a lot of people who simply call on Him with little faith – Luke 17:6? Would I have faith at all? For this grace of revelation, I am indeed grateful to God.
Why is it that some people do not have faith in God? From my orientation, ‘Faith is a supernatural virtue infused by God. Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’ The Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC, 153:24-25. The grace of God is needed to have faith and it is in abundant sufficiency [2 Corinthians 12:9] as long as we have life in us. When we begin to ask ourselves questions about the mysteries of life in this world, and then beyond, that begins our search of some truth that leads to faith, and then the practice of religion. Hence, many people’s search has led them to various types of faith and religion.
But faith in God comes by hearing – Romans 10:17, and this is why Christians need to obey Christ’s command to baptize and to spread His Good News to all – Matthew 28:19-20. The failure to live by and spread the Gospel leaves room for others [not Christians] to teach messages contrary to the Holy Scripture. We can see a lot of the examples in the media industry; and our children and youth grow up believing and idolizing superheroes, if we do not instruct them properly to differentiate such entertainments from the Truth of God, who alone should be worshipped most highly. Hence, all true Christians are part of God’s grace to unbelievers to be called to faith in God too.
God is a Spirit, who has revealed His truth to us, and He also counsels us to understand the mysteries of His revelations. Where man’s teachings do not permeate, the Holy Spirit supplies to those who seek faith. Speaking the Truth by spreading the Gospel is only the much we, as humans, can do. The Holy Spirit is the perfector of God’s grace of faith in Him, by His gifts [knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and holy fear]. With these gifts, we are able to embody faith, which is one of the virtues of the Holy Spirit, but must work with hope and charity or love, and these further form in us prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. For those with these attributes, the fruits of the Spirit are present in; the fruits of love, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, joy, faithfulness and self-control. They are testimonial to the presence of God in us, our taste and first sense of seeing God on earth, before we can see Him hereafter.
By IfeanyiChukwu Oluwafemi [Linda Ogbue], May 15, 2020
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