In 2009 year in London on 800 city buses were posted posters with the inscription: "In all likelihood, there is no God. So do not worry and enjoy life. " In response, the Orthodox Christians of London placed on the other buses the inscription: "God is, believe me! Do not worry and enjoy life! "On whose side is the truth? And why do some people turn to God and others run from Him? Why, for some, is the Lord God evident as our life itself, but for others not?
It would seem that in suffering people should turn to God, but many, suffering, turn to alcohol, but do not remember God at all. Already in the Holy Scriptures we see two opposite reactions to the calling of the Lord. So, the apostles John and Jacob, the simple fishermen, after hearing the word of Christ, immediately left the boat, left the father and followed the Lord (see: 4: 21-22), and the rich young man to whom the Savior said: "Follow Me" , As stated in the Gospel, embarrassed, departed from Him with sorrow (see: Matthew 19: 16-22; MK 10: 17-22).
Indeed, a person's conversion to God is always a mystery. People seem to live in the same social and cultural conditions, but sometimes they have different attitudes to faith.
To understand the essence of this problem, let us first try to find out what unbelief is, atheism.
In general, in my personal opinion, there are two types of atheism. The first is forced disbelief, so to speak, atheism due to a misunderstanding, when the child was simply so brought up and therefore he has no idea of the spiritual world. Such people are able to act in a Christian way, although nobody seems to have taught them this. At a certain moment, such a person can easily (in a sense, easily) gain faith: it will appear in it as a treasure that was in oblivion, but was not completely lost. In this case, faith in man has not died, but sleeps, and it can awaken - by thinking about the meaning of life, contemplating nature, paying attention to the example of the life of sincere believers and in many other cases.
The second type of unbelief is atheism ideological: it is some kind of internal aggression, dislike of the spiritual, so that a person turns away from God, like one who has sick eyes, turns away from the sun. And the atheist himself sometimes does not understand the essence of his atheism.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh in a dialogue about atheism and the last court talks about a former atheist, who later became a clergyman. I find this story particularly telling. The protagonist of the narrative, Alexander, was a clever, intelligent and educated man who lived first in Russia, and then in Paris. Like many others in his time, he was atheist and considered himself too cultured and developed to even think about faith. Somehow he got to talking to a village priest who did not have any higher education. This priest listened to him for a long time, and then told him two truths: "Firstly, Sasha, it's not so important that you do not believe in God. It is remarkable that God believes in you (that is, you have not yet completely perished for eternal life). And the second: and you, Sasha, go home and think at what moment and why you lost faith, at what moment it was necessary for you that there was no God. "
Alexander returned home puzzled. He was surprised at the very formulation of the question, the very approach of the priest to this topic. Because at this accidental meeting with the priest he expected to hear a missionary speech or instructions to read some tracts, but instead he heard: go and try to figure it out yourself. For some reason he suddenly wanted to do it, thought: "Maybe, try it? Well, I'll see what I had in my life before ... "
At first he thought that the reasons for his disbelief in his university education, then began to look for them in earlier periods of his life. So he got to his childhood, until the time when he was 6 years old. And what happened then? He lived in one of the cities of Russia, was a nice boy, every Sunday he went to church, and stood in the middle of the temple ahead of others and prayed to God. Every Sunday, parents gave him 1 a penny, which he had to put in the hat of a poor blind man, and he laid it and went to church with the feeling that he had done a good deed, showed love, attention and now can go to God with a clear conscience. Once before Christmas, he was walking with his mother around the city, and they went to the store where a wonderful wooden horse was sold, which cost 6 cents. Sasha asked Mom to buy her, but she refused, and he returned home very upset. And the next Sunday, when he went to church with the beggar, he thought that if six times he did not give him a penny, he could buy himself a horse himself. And he did not give a penny at that time.
So he acted four times, and on the fifth he thought: "And if I take one penny from a beggar, then I can buy this horse even earlier." And this time he quietly stole a penny from a beggar. After that, he entered the temple and suddenly felt that he could no longer stand in front: suddenly God would notice him, and he went off into a corner. Now Sasha felt that he was somehow ill, that he needed to hide from God somehow. And then his older brother, who had taken up godless teaching, came back from the university and began to prove that there was no God. And little Sasha jumped at this thought as a straw, on which he thought to be saved: "If there is no God, it does not matter that I stole this kopeck and did not put five." From that time, godlessness began in him. The doctrine that there is no God, he perceived as the only salvation from reproaches of conscience.
The above story is very revealing. He clearly represents that disbelief, atheism, is, first of all, an attempt to hide from God, hide, close his eyes and say: "There is no God," just as we sometimes try to hide from our own conscience, and conscience is the voice God in man. From the Holy Scripture it is known that the first such thing happened in paradise, when people, having sinned, breaking the commandment of God, tried to hide from the face of God - no matter how they see God, no matter how God does not exist. The Lord, speaking to Adam, says: "Adam, where are you?" And he replies: "I heard your voice in Paradise, and I was afraid because I was naked and disappeared" (Gen. 3: 9-10). This sinful nakedness, exposure to the grace of God, makes a man hide from God.
But the reason is not only this. Throughout history, atheism is also an attempt to convince ourselves that there is no God to justify our sinful predilections. This denial does not necessarily begin in the mind or reason, but most often occurs somewhere in the depths of a fallen soul, in our heart. The atheist seems to reason: "If there is no God, then nothing will happen to me for my sins, because I live once, and it's better to live for my own pleasure, and what will happen to my soul after a physical death is not interesting to me. If there is no God, then what is the use of virtue? Material goods can be felt, and virtue-what is this treasure? "And, again, all this arises spontaneously in the depths of a fallen spirit, and only then can form in the form of a logically harmonious materialistic worldview.
Now, if unbelief is an attempt to hide from God to justify one's sins, faith is the way back, a return to God with the desire to be cleansed from sins. But to return, you need to know the way, and for this you need a search. And very often a person comes to faith because his soul suddenly feels a certain call, the need to search. Man does not yet understand that he lacks God, but he already feels that his routine does not satisfy him. A sort of search for the meaning of life begins, because suddenly the senselessness of our earthly vanity is revealed. I want to add to this that usually people seek the meaning of life not through rational, logical reasoning, but intuitively, as some internal need.
At the end of the XX century an article was published in the press about the sad fate of the son of an American millionaire. In this article it was said that one successful young man, the son of a millionaire, in the prime of life and prosperity, committed suicide. With him was found a note that read: "I took everything from life, did not find anything interesting in it, I leave life voluntarily." Of course, this young man had the best cars, expensive villas; He was surrounded by the most beautiful women. In short, he had everything that modern man can dream about. And suddenly such a sad outcome. So, with all the abundance of his soul, something was missing, something most important. He just received a little earlier what most people want, and saw that there is nothing very special about these achievements. How to recognize the hero A.S. Pushkin Eugene Onegin:
I'm young, life in me is strong,
Why should I wait? Yearning, longing ...
In our life it often happens like this: it seems to us that having made a successful purchase, having achieved an advantageous place of work, a high salary, a good position in society, etc., we will at last calm down, gain something important. But we hardly achieve all this, as it turns out that there is nothing special about this, and again something is missing, there is a kind of emptiness. We are striving for an elusive good, for the fullness of life, as for a tempting horizon, which can not be reached at all. Because the soul of man is such that only God can satiate it. Only an infinite God can saturate the infinite depths of our hearts.
The Holy Fathers say that the soul of man is like a sunflower, which always refers to the sun with its flower, and the heart aspires to God, pines and fades without spiritual light. In fact, there are no such people who have never experienced an inner craving for the spiritual, who never had a soulache, so that they would not need God. Simply, we see many people only at a certain stage of their life path and by their limitations we believe that they will never feel spiritual thirst and will not change for the better.
Often the crisis situation in life, strong grief, contact with death helps us to turn to faith, when suddenly it is revealed that not everything is as we thought before, and the person wants that there is something that exceeds the limits of our material world.
Spiritual writer of the XX century N.E. Pestov, whose son was killed at the end of World War II, cites the testimony of one of the signalmen who received radio reports of Russian military pilots on the radio. This communicator said that many pilots who did not show their faith, when they were hit by an enemy and their plane, enveloped in flames, fell down, suddenly started to pray: "Lord, take my soul" - it was audible over the radio.
The fact is that a critical situation is an event in life when the entire husk disappears and the person remains alone with himself. Disappears all superfluous, the mask which we put on ourselves is removed, playing a certain role in a life. The soul, finally at last by itself, sees. What does she see? That there is a spiritual world and that man is not the center of the universe, that we have a Heavenly Father, without whom our life will not be happy.
Of course, how many people, there are so many ways to God. Someone turns to faith through the study of nature. Some Creator draws to Himself through obvious miracles: a person was threatened with death, imminent misfortune, an incurable disease, and suddenly everything was safely resolved without apparent earthly reasons. In this case, it is exactly given to know that the help was given by the Most High.
But, anyway, if an inner revolution does not take place in a person, revaluation of values, or more precisely, if there is no awakening of his soul, its rebirth, he will not become believers for any arguments.
Why does not all people have such spiritual insight?
Often, a person's faith is hidden somewhere in the depths of his soul, and since he is accustomed to living only outside, he is always in a hurry, fussing, hurrying and he has no time to be alone with himself, he does not notice the faith. The modern man has got used to "function" somewhere, he wants to be dragged into "grandiose" terrestrial plans to arrange his destiny - to think about and stop no opportunity for a single moment. And only when the fragments of earthly happiness that he tried to create fall to him, when he finally remains alone with himself, can faith awaken in him.
I really like this comparison. Imagine that, on the one hand, a musician plays the violin, and on the other hand a worker with a jackhammer works. Will you analyze the melody of the violin? Or will you see only the movement of the bow through the strings? So in a person's life, all the external vanity, haste, impressions, worldly pleasures do not let hear the sounds of spiritual life and the voice of one's own faith, hidden in the soul. Such people see the temples, see the manifestation of faith in the lives of others, but do not hear the voices of faith in their own hearts.
Whoever is in a closed, dark room for a long time, he disconnects from the light, his vision becomes dull, becomes incapable of looking into the distance. So seclusion on some earthly interests kills in the soul the desire for God; Faith for this happens to be something far away.
However, even among the most outrageous noise, a person can feel the calling of God. He does not even understand what he does not have, but he feels some dissatisfaction, inner anxiety, the need for higher meaning and truth. And only after many years, such a person begins to suddenly realize that all this time he lacked God.
In any case, faith in God is a special awakening of the soul when it becomes sensitive to a more exalted world. This is similar to the way a child wakes up musical talent, and suddenly he discovers that there are amazing sequences of sounds, or an artistic gift, when the child begins to understand the harmony of colors. But if the gift of a musician or an artist is not given to everyone, then faith in God is the need of the soul of every person.
Blessed Augustine once said: "You, God, created us for Myself, and our heart is restless until it settles down in You" (Confession, 1: 1). And in general, a person's search for happiness, joy and fullness of life is actually a thirst for God. Whatever the person has achieved, if he is without God, everything will be small for him and he will not be calm. And if he is with God, then the small is content. It is faith in God that gives the soul the long-awaited peace that the human heart seeks.