I have a love/hate relationship with this question. On one hand I love giving the answers, and clearing people's misconceptions and misinformation about God. On the other hand, it's a huge responsibility, and while I love it, I feel the weight of responsibility. It is that important.
So I said, "Well if you are thinking about reality--you need God because He is. You can ignore Him but since He IS, why would you want to? It's a lie that life is better or easier without Him.
"But if you are thinking Do I have to believe? no, you don't. He doesn't force anyone to believe in Him. He just loves you and wants a relationship with you. He knows how much better your life will be with Him than without Him."
"He and the church just complicate life," she said, but I knew she was very protective of her Catholic background.
"It can feel like that if you listen to people, even priests," I replied. "However, Jesus kept it very simple. He said knowing God, having a relationship with Him, is all that matters. In fact, He said it is the one important thing in life. Why do you think He would say that?"
"I have no idea."
"Maybe because God wants a relationship with you? Maybe because we have been given so much misinformation? Maybe because even the church has got it wrong? I believe you can't really know or be yourself without knowing Him."
She is like a lot of people I've met: afraid to believe that God really loves them and wants to communicate with them, afraid to trust their own ability to hear and believe. They see God as someone out to get them.
I understand that. I really do. But after seeing Philomena last week, I think it is imperative that each of us seek and find our own path to God. People who get it handed down from the church--and think that to believe in the God they are taught about is sufficient--can really lose themselves in either, guilt, anger, or resentment. Thank God, Philomena didn't give up believing in His love, even while she suffered under inappropriate guilt. I highly recommend the movie. It is very well done, and a true story.
In my opinion, the story shows that God will come through, if you seek Him. All the little things that had to come together, details that almost didn't happen for her to find out she was loved, proved to me that God was there for her showing His love for her, His forgiveness.
It also shows how wrong the picture of God the church gives you can be. If that's wrong, how can you have a true picture of yourself?