Team Meme and Ministry
Tim Keller's "The Prodigal God" and A Tired Old Food Meme
However defined, reductivist meme theories oughtn't preclude the truth of the content of memes. Unfortunately, the common assumption is that the fact of the existence of replicating belief units (the hypothesis itself possibly a meme and therefore disputable/disreputable?) does indeed demonstrate the lack of authenticity of those beliefs.
The idea commonly called "gravity", for instance, appears to be a good description of Reality, the objectivity of which may be demonstrated anywhere in the world by a non-believer in gravitational practices stepping off the side of a high bridge.
Tired Old Design Meme: Keep Calm & Carry OnWhat then to say to a girl, gently weeping that she could not believe in God because she had a happy childhood growing up in a loving Christian home and didn't know how else to think about the world? What misery it was to keep up appearances so as not to devastate loved ones.
A first (nervous) instinct might be to address the fallacies of relativism and pluralism, both philosophically and in terms of the overwhelming historical veracity of Jesus and his death and resurrection. While somewhat useful, this would merely be akin to producing identification documents and some Facebook data to show that her father did exist. But for her to desperately desire reconciliation with him, as much as he would spare no expense in bringing about that reunion, she would first have to be (re-)acquainted with Reality - who she really is, who God truly is and the cosmic consequences of what Jesus has done.
God is not adverse to memes. In fact, he commands parents to teach their children and their children's children about him. After all, loving parent wouldn't introduce his children to the most important person in the world and warn them of the terrible dangers of falling out of relationship with him? (But the world has deceived us of our common sense so that some mothers even refuse to teach their curious 7-year old daughters about sexual morality fearing that in so doing, they would commit the grave sin of imposing their learned values on their children. And this in a time when kindergarten teachers report rising cases of sexualised behaviour, like fellatio, amongst 3 year olds and maids observe their primary school charges regularly surfing the internet for porn.)
And in his second extant letter to Timothy, Paul commends the faith of Timothy which he learned from childhood from his mother and grandmother and Scripture, and he commands Timothy to continue in, and pass on, the gospel, the pattern of sound teaching, to faithful men who would be able to teach others the same truth.
Thank God he has not allowed her to presume salvation through her family/cultural heritage. Pray as we sit under God's word in the months to come that we will read it faithfully and so be taught, reproved, corrected, trained in righteousness and made wise for salvation, competent to do every good work.
For the aim of any ministry is to show how great are the riches of the glory of this open secret (which is Christ in us), the hope of glory and present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:27-28). And the God-ordained means of doing this is the proclamation of Christ by making the word of God fully known, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom (Colossians 1:25,28).
In praying for her salvation, we are assured that God is a father who does more than give what his children ask for - he knows what they need even before they ask. And he shows mercy to all who ask for it.
But though she thinks that all will be well after conversion, we are duly and simultaneously warned and comforted that the temptation to worship another god (usually ourselves) will crouching at our door until our last breath; but we do not push along on our own steam while Christ looks down from heaven, rather we are regenerated and we have Christ in us, helping us through the Spirit, and so, the hope of glory. If we were left to ourselves, we would have no hope.
And so also, all ministry, having eternal consequences, will be backbreaking hard work, toil. We fight against our own sin, the sin of those whom we serve, and the princes and principalities of this world. But we will struggle on with all Christ's energy as he powerfully works in us (Colossians 1:29). It's strange that we think that God's hold on us is somewhat fragile and that he might lose his grip and allow us to plunge into a bottomless ravine if we so much as sneeze. But God, who made heaven and earth, is powerful beyond all measure. And he is doing more than regenerating little you and me; he is remaking the whole universe.
So in all of our Christian life, both its inception and its continuation, we rely on God's ability to respond to him in love and obedience, responsibly depending to his power in faith to live and do his work according to his Word. After all, this is part of trust and confidence in Christ.