Last Saturday we were out on the village green again, this time not for the Jubilee, but the fete. We set up our tent in the wind, and set out our stall of edible Olympics medals for the kids to make, some real Guinness Book of World Records to try and set – coin spinning, basketball twirling, and cream cracker eating, and we did a survey.
Despite the weather, we had 40-50 kids making medals, plenty of budding record breakers, and thirty taking the survey.
The survey rode on the back of the one we did two weeks ago, where nearly fifty responded. In it we asked about quality of life – was it better to live in the 50’s, now, or in say 60 years from now? It was amazing, and quite concerning to see how the overwhelming majority of local people, of all ages, thought the past was better than now, unless you were retiring, and that the future offered little hope. The reasons people gave were breakdown of community, loss of innocence, advent of television, and financial concerns about the future.
We wondered if this nostalgia for the past, and pessimism about the future had any link to the state of people’s faith, so we devised three new questions for the next survey, they were:
1. Do you believe in God, yes or no?
2. Was Jesus a good teacher, the Son of God, deluded, or a fraudster?
3. If there is a heaven do you believe you will go there?
The answers we very clear from a group of people who almost none of whom go to Church at all – they almost all believe in God if they had to say yes or no. Some wavered, but in the end, almost all, young and old said yes.
As to Jesus, without exception, all had a positive view of Him, at least a good teacher with something to offer today, but the majority actually believed He is the Son of God.
Lastly, only one person did not believe in heaven. There were even two who did not believe in God, who believed in heaven! All but that one believed they would go there when they died, but having said that, except maybe one, they added “I hope” or “I’d like to think” – this question caused the greatest unease. There was lots of embarrassed laughter at this point.
It seems that most people think going to heaven is about being a good person, rather than understanding that heaven was where people who God forgives through Jesus’ sacrifice in their place go. It was a privilege to give away lots of literature to help set that to right, and talk people through the issues.
The way this agreed with the first survey result it seems is that in both cases people were uncertain about the future. Instead of trusting God for the future, they were self-reliant and this was leading to a discernible level of anxiety.
We are very grateful to everyone who took part, and for the excellent conversations we had. Our hope is that by telling people the good news about who Jesus is, and what He has done, they may learn to look to the future with growing confidence and be able to face it with greater peace.
Coin spin record – 10.81 seconds by Thomas – world record is 25.56 seconds
Basketball circles – 40 by Laurence. World record is 56 in 30 seconds.
Three cream crackers – 1 min 39 seconds by Isaac. World record is 33 seconds.