You may have heard that Australia now has its first female Prime Minister. What you may not have heard, is that she is also an Atheist.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says “I’m not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel.” Well that is a starting point. I suppose there are any number of leaders of countries who feel the same way but don’t have the stones to admit it for fear of political liability. Ahem.
What strikes me about her statement is that she refers to faith as a feeling. This seems a common misconception. Faith, like love, is not a feeling but a decision. I have have often thought that this misunderstanding of the nature of things is one of the primary weaknesses of our culture.
Generations have now taken to the view that love is a feeling. When that feeling fades, well its time to dump your partner and find someone else who gives you that ‘feeling.’ The feeling, above all, must be maintained. We have, in muddled modern thinking, a right to feel love and that right trumps any and all obligations.
Of course, rational adults understand that love is a decision. Or rather, love is a series of daily decisions to put the welfare of others ahead of your own. Anyone who has been married a while understands that the initial giddiness of a relationship fades and that love is continuous. The wonderful thing is that often, if we stick with it, we are later graced with wonderful periods of affection and happiness that are icing on the cake.
So too with faith. Faith is not a feeling but a decision we make every day. A decision of love. To put an unseen God at the forefront every single day. In short, a decision to love God. And it comes with icing on the cake. Like any relationship of love, it is sometimes accompanied with the wonderful “feeling” of love. These times are a Grace to be treasured.
Faith, like love, is a daily decision. I pray for Ms. Gillard that she may one day make that same decision of faith and love. I pray for her not because I expect her affection in return. I pray for her because I love her. I love her because God loves me. Its been decided.