February 11th, 2004



Offline and on, many friends are struggling with their faith, especially with the cost of being a Christian. It's as if the bill just arrived in the mail unexpectedly and is being met by a shocked, "I can't/won't pay that!" Who actually pays is another theological path, an important one (the important one). But since there are so many diverse lives and stories involved, I find myself trying to identify the irreducible facts in common, an atom of the struggle. Pulling such a thing out of its context is indelicate, perhaps even brutal and harsh, but maybe there's also clarity in its not being covered over by the complexities of an individual circumstance.

Here's the atom I see at the core:
"I'm mad at God because I didn't get what I wanted and it hurt."
One can change the verb tense (like "I'm mad at God because He says no to what I want to do"), but I think it's the same atom. I'm also sure it has its own version of subatomic particles— "Jesus isn't who I want Him to be" may be one of those.

Outworkings of this atom may vary.
  • There's Smorgasbord Jesus, where in some bizarre parody of the Lord's Table we pick and choose which parts of Him we will consume and which are unpalatable and left behind. Our tastes prevail, of course— the Jesus we take in is of a milquetoasty variety that would never have offended anyone, and thus would never have been crucified at all.
  • There's Ditch the Church, where our anger gets diffused to the body and we lash out at the church's flaws instead of marvelling at the process of His sanctification of His bride. We demand to deal with God in the communities we choose, not the one He chose. Here we often not only disobey His expectation of fellowship, but also fail to worship Him at all— exposing where the problem truly lies.
  • There's Subjective Reality, whereby things become good the way I want them because I want them, and if God disagrees He's either unfair or misunderstood, because if I want something, that's who I am and how dare He contradict that! The line between this and a two-year-old's temper tantrum is hazy at best— one can almost hear the stamping of little feet.
Our atom of dissent is neither new nor unique. Lucifer had it. He delivered it to Adam and his wife, and it carried all the way to Judas Iscariot and beyond. "This God is a disappointment to us and we are therefore justified in responding however we damn well please, thank you very much."

So if that's the atom and some of its consequences, what's the atomic response, the irreducible core of faithful reply? I wonder if it isn't simply this:
"Get over it."
Again, indelicate bordering on rude. It is a truth only to be offered in love, one that can only be offered with the hope the gospel brings for our redemption. Couch it however is beneficial to reaching the heart, but for heaven's literal sake, get over it. Get over your self— in love the gospel invites us, but it will never, must never be limited to our blinded vision. Get over it for whatever reason you like, but ultimately, get over it because the atom of dissent is total bullshit and totally destructive. Left unchecked, it will result in nothing less than the destruction of your soul.

And it simply isn't true. Let the Word that was from the beginning be the last Word as well. Please.
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