Whether you believe in God or not. Whether you are a skeptic or atheist or person simply questioning what makes religion real, consider this:
Whether the stories read in the Bible or Torah or Quran are factual or not, the stories have inspired millions of ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Whether we are talking about the story of David and Goliath, where an ordinary young boy with a sling and a stone has overcome a towering aggressor by using his brains, cleverness, and confidence in a higher power than himself… or the story of a man named Jesus who felt moved to help those in need of forgiveness, food, shelter, and protection… or the story of Moses, a shy, soft-spoken man who would lead an oppressed people out of slavery and bondage towards freedom…. The stories in these books have moved people to want to do great things for others.
Real people have felt moved to provide real solutions to real problems. People with real prayers and real problems can go to a church or synagogue or a mosque and encounter real people just like them who may offer real comfort, real support in their times of crisis and need, and real answers to their very real problems.
Going to any church-based soup kitchen or church sponsored homeless shelter and you will see real people providing hot meals to people who are hungry and in need. You will see real people providing clothing and important supplies to the homeless and people in crisis. Whether it is a church, a synagogue, or mosque, real people have been inspired to want to look out for their fellow men, women, and children. They do what they do because they believe that all life is precious and that there is a higher authority and a higher moral standard to live by. They believe that life is a precious gift that needs to be protected and nurtured.
Never doubt that there is something powerful and genuine in their acts of kindness and generosity. Their actions come from a source of love that may be inspired by God, by a Scripture passage or two, or by the teaching of a prophet or messenger from some long ago time and some far away place– wherever that source of inspiration and love has come from, it has impacted people to want to be better human beings. That needs to be respected.
A church can be a place of shelter for those who have nowhere to go and nowhere to turn to escape from the harsh elements. A church can be a place where a kid can escape from his or her bullies and find people who will protect and empower and encourage. A church can be a place where the lonely can find a real friend, get a cup of coffee or tea perhaps, and realize they are not alone in this world. A church can be a place for the restless and angry or depressed soul to find a safe place to meditate, find calm, and channel anger into something better and more productive. A church can be a place for the tired and burdened to find rest and comfort. A church can be many things to different people– all they need to do is give that church a chance.
And it’s all very real. There is no hocus-pocus or magic involved. So whether people want to believe in God or not, seems kind of off the point. The point is… there is something very real behind religion and what makes religion real is the people who actually put something of themselves out for others. It is about taking inspiration and putting it into action. The inspiration is real because the impact it makes on others is real.