Sometimes I think I’m insane for being a Christian.
Time and again I fall for the devil’s oldest temptation: God is holding out on you.
I believe it; I grab control of my life back from God; I do something that I think will make me happy; then I watch as my life implodes in varying degrees via multiple outlets.
A funny thing about blogging is -if you look back on what you’ve written over a period of time – you notice reoccurring themes that keep popping up in your writing, and the question of God’s goodness, love and care keep arising like a phoenix from the ashes of my past.
I’ve talked about evil, pain, suffering, and the importance of being thankful. I’ve talked about these things so much because I keep rolling them around in my head, trying different ways to work things out that might give me some kind of peace: I trust that God is good in general and things will work out in the end, but what about in the meantime?
There are certain things I would really like in life. To be married has long been at or near the top of that list. I sometimes idealize a version of myself that would be able to just live life peacefully according to the American dream without thinking about things God would have me do.
To do the things I want to do when I want to do them feels like it’s as American as apple pie (oh…because it is…).
And as my life goes on and pressures crest that make things feel bleaker, I easily lose patience. I ask myself, “What the hell am I doing? I’m trusting a God who too often feels distant to provide for me? Based on WHAT? He doesn’t guarantee He’ll give me what I want; He guarantee’s He’ll do whatever He has to in order to refine me into someone that looks like His Son. That SUCKS!”
Part of me truly believes that, while another part of me is at war with those ideas.
When it comes down to it, I do trust that God’s paths and ways are best for me. But being constantly faced with a multimedia and culturally-driven alternative that sure looks like it’s a lot of fun entices me to taste the forbidden fruit.
Does God really care about me? How can I really know? Look what I can do if I just take matters into my own hands…
Because the truth is, if either God isn’t good or there is no God(s) at all, then the cultural rallying cry of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is absolutely spot on. Nietzsche would be completely correct: all that matters in such a world is who has the strongest will. I’m going to get me mine, and ultimately who really cares about you, because there ultimately is no point to any of this.
That sounds morbid to our Judeo-Christianly-influenced-though-not-often-acknowledged sense of morality, but Os Guinness quotes and summarizes the gist of the truth Nietzsche uncovered within this paradigm here:
Nietzsche rightly scorned those who said ‘God is dead’ and went on living exactly the same as before…[he] derided such people as ‘odious windbags of progressive optimism’ who think it possible to have Christian morality without Christian faith. ‘They are rid of the Christian God,’ he wrote in Twilight of the Idols, ‘and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to the Christian morality…When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.’
I really AM missing out on life if this Christian thing is wrong. Paul himself wrote we Christians are to be pitied above all men if this thing we preach is a sham.
So I get a bit worked up when I hear people speak of how good God is and how much He loves us and will take care of us because it’s a faith I don’t have.
I’ve said it before: I’m not sure how one acquires such faith short of being able to genuinely perceive good things in life as from God while chalking up bad things to either the fallen state of creation; the devil; or a refining act of God.
And I don’t know how that perception shifts. Being thankful in general is a huge step in that direction, but while necessary, I’m not yet convinced it in itself is sufficient.
I’m beginning to wonder if a popular conception of faith that I have long been at odds with may legitimately have a place in life (internal cringe).
Being an over-analytical book worm, I have recoiled at Christians who talk of faith as if it is inherently blind. It makes us look even dumber than we too often look – I just believe it because I just believe it, that’s what faith is.
But that runs counter to Peter’s exhortation to always be prepared to give the reasons for why we have the hope that we do.
I grew up on apologetics. I was intellectually compelled to make the Christian faith of my parents my own because I became convinced that it was most likely the true depiction of reality. Faith, I’ve always thought, isn’t blind! That’s just ignorant.
Eventually I came across the works of 19th Century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, one of the main contributors to existentialist thought and a very devout Christian. One of his famous ruminations about Christianity is an emphasis on the “leap of faith” one must take to accept Christianity.
I have not studied Kierkegaard closely, nor do I know the full extent of what he is suggesting by his “leap of faith,” but the little I initially heard flabbergasted me that such a brilliant thinker could be so dumb about faith.
Now I wonder if I’m starting to pick up what he was putting down.
What if the leap of faith isn’t necessarily that God is real (though of course that does take some faith, as does the belief that God isn’t real – there’s faith inherent in all of it)? What if it comes in believing He is good?
The “Good Christian Answer” is that we have His promises in Scripture to fall back on as evidence of His goodness, of what He’s done for all of us throughout history.
But as the saying goes, “What have you done for me lately?” Not to be flippant, but all that stuff is well and good, and I believe it, but it hasn’t happened in my life. I believe it happened for me, but I haven’t seen it. But, blast it, Jesus told Thomas that those who don’t see and believe are blessed, so what the frick am I supposed to do?
While I do have the promises of Scripture, and I can wait to experience the miraculous hand of God that several in my church community have witnessed, in the face of disappointment and life dreams that are either delayed (and, yes, quite possibly may go unfulfilled), I stand and demand that God is good.
It is going to work out. The price I pay – we all pay – will be worth it. Everything this life has to offer does pale in comparison for what is yet to come.
Because I have reason to believe the promises of Scripture. And Jesus told me there that if those like me don’t believe the prophets that came before, we aren’t going to believe any miraculous signs, either.
Now I just have to keep telling myself this and praying for God to give me the grace to feel it deep within my bones.