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Atoms

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.

Comments

Rock on!
amen.
Well said; and noteworthy, that every single one of us harbors this "atom" to some degree.

Perhaps spiritual progress could be measured by how aware we are of this fact, and how diligent we are at stopping the outworkings as they crop up.
AMEN!

I struggle with this for sure. But how gracious is God that He persists until I finally do "get over it"!?

He just says calmly and firmly "You are not God, I AM".

And I'm so grateful for that!!!!
thanks for this post. can i pass it on?

Re:

Yessss! May I pass it on as well? I know some folks (including myself) who could really benefit from it.

Re:

You two and anyone else are certainly welcome to pass it on. Thank you for your kind words.

Wow

Another excellent, thought provoking and God honoring post. Thank you.
I love the phrase "Get over it". I think I may overuse it a bit though, at least that's what Sarah says ;)

But truthfully, I use it on myself more than on anyone else.

You rocked me, Amadeus. Thank you.
I feel quite redundant to add yet another word, but the necessity to express gratitude overrides. My own father allowed this bitter atom to overcome all the other facets of existence to the point he abandoned God and his family for an easier god to please: himself.

And I, in fevered and misguided response, did the same for some time. Though I said all the "right words" and never forsook my spiritual tone, inside I was emotionally dying as I cried out the very words you so succinctly detailed: I'm mad at God because I didn't get what I wanted and it hurt.

Variations of this questions do indeed come in many veils: "Why does God allow [my] suffering?" etc; but I know from personal experience and from suffering others' personal experience the imperative truth of your words.

So to make a short story long . . . thanks.
That's brilliant! I wish I'd had time and ability to write that this morning, as it was on my mind all day.

There's a lot of playing around with God and I think it stems from forgetting who He is. I've suffered grief and unspeakable heartbreak, but now, in the end, I say glory to God in the highest. Thanks, brother.
I have these little tantrums all the time. I know I'm having them and being a brat but knowing that never seems to stop me. Feeling resentful of God's will doesn't stop me obeying Him, however. I find 'self' a very hard thing to get over.

I'm making a forward out of this, giving you credit as author, of course. :) It's so true, and truth does indeed set us free - from our sinful selves!