Tuesday, October 27, 2015

poison

I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that this image encapsulates everything that is wrong with the church today.

Yes.  I said everything.

It's not because it's a trite saying - it is that - but it's because it speaks to a level of supposed enablement that isn't real.  It's also not Biblical.  Currently, in the church's vain attempt at being more "seeker friendly", this topic becomes something of a battle-cry for the downtrodden, and pushes people into ever darker places and states of mind.  Basically, what's really being said here - without actually saying it - is that in the trials and travails that have befallen you, you have somehow averted your eyes from God, and it is not only within your power to correct these things, but - now, get this - your troubles are really all in your head.  They aren't really real.  If you would, for one second, pull your head out of your overly spiritual and way-too-self-introspective ass, you would realize that God is only giving you these things to make you stronger.  If you just flipped a magic switch and truly understood, you wouldn't even have these supposed problems.

There is a word for this sentiment: BULLSHIT.  It's this sentiment right here that is the very base of the argument of "why does God allow evil in the world if He is so good?"  That is also a false argument, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Now, before someone gets on their high-hog and starts calling me Reformed or Calvinist, let's just stop with that garbage for a minute.  Let's go from some common sense, and leave people like Gilly Haan and Jack Calvin out of this for a second.

First, we need to understand that, as humans, we are wholly incapable of understanding everything there is to know about God.  We just can't, because the depths of that cannot be described.  Despite our best intentions, we have and will continue to fail in that regard.  We should accept this altruistically.  I am not saying that one shouldn't try to understand these things, but I am saying that the more you find out, the more ready you must be to be corrected on your "epiphanal moments".

Next is the statement that somehow implies God "gives" us things.  Now, I can't go a whole lot further without exposing my Calvinist innards, but I have to ask- who says God "gives" us these things?  I have a difficult time believing that God does that.  I believe that things happen and all the things that happen are somehow "ordained" and within some kind of plan (thank you, Jack Calvin) - but honestly, I can't prove that.  I guess I don't really know how that works, but what I am pretty darned sure of is that it doesn't matter.  God has provided the Author and the Finisher of our faith in Jesus Christ, and I am also pretty darned sure that no matter what we "believe" we really need to trust Him.  So, that's what I do.

Ok- but how is this sentiment ruining the church?

The poison that comes out of this sentiment really boils down to the idea that God won't challenge us, and as His children we shouldn't challenge others, either.  That's patently untrue.  More than that, God will absolutely put things in your path that are impossible to work through without him.  That's why the statement should be changed to the one on the right- but I don't think I've ever seen this meme shown anywhere near the number of times the first one shows up.

See, the issue is this- God isn't interested in our fleeting comfort, not even a little bit.  What He is interested in is having relationship with us.  Think about it- the friends all of us value the most are the ones that walk through not just the woods with us, but also walk through the brambles and the thorns.  They are there for us in the good and the bad - especially the bad - and that value is one we all find irreplaceable.  God is EXACTLY like that, and while He is not concerned with your "comfort" at a specific moment, He is very interested in your well-being- but this well-being has an eternal component to it, and that is hard to fathom.

In our day-to-day walk in and out of the church, this poison spreads into the farthest reaches.  It becomes something of a "microwave" sentiment, in that the people who believe this message also belive that if their minds are somehow attuned to some special frequency, God will just turn the world the way they are headed and everything will be easy.  This is what allows ideas like this to happen:

  • Our church is great because we are growing in number.
  • Our church services could be better if we had better video/audio/larger santuary/more parking.....
  • Anyone who wants to do something should be able to do it without challenge- like play on a worship team or run sound.

What's interesting about all of these statements is that there is a small measure of truth in them, but what people fail to realize is that it's too small to be truly foundational and build upon any of it.  Again, it's the "microwave" sentmentality of it that dissipates the real message and the reality that we don't understand God and we can't just boil God down to some formula like that book a few years ago called "The Prayer of Jabez" tried to sell us on.  God isn't a formula and He cannot be boiled down to something trivial.

God will absolutely allow things to happen to you that you cannot handle.  Count on it.  He does that to show you how much you need Him.  And, before you cry "well, God wouldn't test me in such a cruel fashion", I will tell you that you are correct- He won't, because He doesn't have to.  The assurance of that is found in Blood that was shed on the Cross by Jesus Christ.  He will test you, and even if you fail, you've already won because of that assurance.  It is that assurance that we all need to lean on instead of the words of someone who probably had good intentions in saying the words in the first meme- but those words are false.

I realize that this can be a confusing topic to some, and if I come off dogmatic about this, I truly apologize, but it's difficult to watch people go through crazy, crazy things and somehow try to reconcile the God I know with these being the items that He has somehow placed in their path, and then try to throw love into it.  It just doesn't work.

Someday, in the sweet by-and-by, we will all have our questions answered.  Until then........