People matter; people make a difference. That simple idea lies at the root of religious faith. Its connotations may differ for different people at different times of their lives but it’s the basic answer to the question: what difference does it make whether we believe in God and, more specifically, in God’s love or not.
Almost everyone I know who’s serious about faith wrestles with this question at one time or other. Those who don’t throw up their hands claiming that they have something better to do with their time, like the dishes or next month’s budget, come to the conclusion that the question is inseparable from the question of whether they – their lives, their loves, their efforts, their dreams – make any difference.
People have always faced a universe that makes us seem irrelevant whether it’s the power of a storm to destroy any trace of our very existence in seconds or the latest photograph of galaxies whose immensity and age make our brief lifespan seem totally inconsequential.
The scriptural story of creation, couched in ancient concepts, asserts that Creative Center of the universe knows us and cares for us. The Creator in the story of Genesis goes to the trouble of reopening the work of creation to provide for human happiness. “It is not good for the human to be unique, I will remake it into a community.” To the Creator we’re worth care and effort. We matter.
There’s a crucial corollary to the observation that belief in God’s love means that we matter. The really important response to God is to live, as much as we are able, in a way that matters, a way that makes a difference. The ultimate denial of God isn’t to intellectually dismiss him. It is to live as though we don’t matter. To tell ourselves, and to make decisions as though, we make no difference. That is the most profound rejection of God.