Christoph Stückelberger, Geneva Agape Foundation Newsletter No. 3
What are the benefits of faith in personal life, for business and for society? Manifold empirical studiessearch for answers to this question. The majority of the studies show evidence for a positive correlation between religious people and their lives: longer life, less divorce, less addiction, more economic income, lower criminality and better health. This is the perspective on the individual wellbeing. As important, but may be less clear, is the effect on economy, environment and society as a whole. The effect on peace and war is ambiguous, the protection of the environment is higher by religious people etc. This is the empirical perspective.
But this question of “my benefits of faith” can also be a trap: Faith becomes a commodity and God is degraded to a trading partner: “I give you, God, my trust and you provide and deliver please the benefits xyz”. And if God does not deliver what we ‘buy’, we leave our faith and change to another goddess who promises cheaper and better services in the religious marketplace. Some forms of Prosperity Gospel degrade faith to this kind of business deal with God.
But happiness, salvation, health and wealth are not for sale. True faith does not ask first what God does for me, but what I can do for God! In the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) it is called: Love God first. In the Dharmic religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism) it is the shift from the Ego to the true Self, the Dharma. This shift from the ‘me’ to the ‘you’ (to God, the other human being and nature) then can result in happiness, health and wealth, but can also lead to suffering, persecution and doubts. True faith liberates me from myself. It makes me free to serve others, to love others – and by doing so, I may harvest also the benefits and fruits for myself. Our effort with the Geneva Agape Foundation to strengthen “Faith in Business” and “Faith at workplace” aims at contributing to this is agape-life, agape-economy, and agape-society.