But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. [1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NLT]
“Sunshine every day makes a desert.” (an old Arab saying)
Nobody likes to be around people who are chronically negative, but by the same measure, nobody truly likes to be around people who are never negative because it’s just not reflective of real life.
We all know folks who by the current psychological mores of our society are deathly afraid to be “caught out” in momentary negativity, and nowhere is this more true than within the “religious” community. Hey, ‘if the shoe fits….’.
I’ve always striven to be transparent and honest, for life’s too short to be any other way, and so today I am admitting as a committed Christian, that right now today, I’m fed up with church people. I’m fed up and sickened by the games we all play in our never-ending religious struggles to be acceptable to one another (and to God).
I’ve mastered the necessary social techniques and nuances of the Christian-eze language, and I’ve grown reasonably adept at covering my spiritual abrasions and open wounds in the presence of other Christians – but none of that is honest, and today I’m down, not up – ever been there yourself? I’m betting you have, moreover, if you’re not that way now, you will face it soon enough; the good news is this: fear not, for there is nothing wrong with you.
We heard a message in church yesterday that had three minutes of content, but it stretched on for an additional forty-two, as we went around and around (and around) the same mountain. By the time I left for home I wasn’t sure of anything I had ever believed, and other than the immutable fact of my own salvation, I was totally at sea. The remainder of the day drifted by like the aftermath of a bad funeral. I finally told my wife, “I’m done; I resign any commission I ever thought I had – I quit.” Ever been there? “And if I never see any more “church” people, it will be too soon.”
Of course I couldn’t go to sleep last night, so I went downstairs to “pray”. I told God exactly what I thought of it all, and I didn’t hold anything back; I was completely candid with Him and wasn’t religiously “careful” in my wordings – why not?, He already knows what’s on my heart.
After quietly putting up with my ravings and ventings until I ran out of them, I heard nothing from God – probably because He’s smarter than church people Christians who would jump in with the standard, “Why are you ‘under the circumstances?’” litany, a subtle judgment indeed; insult to injury.
Much quieter today, I began to sort through yesterday’s meltdown. I learned a few things I will share, in the (unlikely) event others might go through the same thing:
First, God owes me NOTHING. In spite of what I’m comfortable thinking, God isn’t obligated to do, or fulfill – anything for me. I am the one in debt, and it’s one I can’t pay back.
Second, if anyone in the real world is hungry for the real God, it follows that they would value candid, non-plastic believers who would honestly represent Him and themselves, transparently and without shame. So where are those guys?
Third, I don’t blame unbelievers for thinking that ‘Religion is the opiate of the masses.’, for indeed it is. “Religion” is exactly what Christ found at His advent, and it is what caused Him to call the Pharisees of that time the children of Satan. The Pharisees of today are no different.
Fourth, don’t be afraid. What anyone else thinks of you is none of your business. God is the best there is at finding lost sheep; He’s also the best there is at binding up their wounds. Don’t be afraid of being honest with yourself, just understand there are quite probably no others you can be honest with in this world. God is the only one for that.
Fifth, admit that perhaps the beating you took, or at least part of it, may have been deserved. God is a God of discipline; it’s why we call Him “Father”, and He’s as perfect in discipline as He is in everything else.
Sixth, shut up and listen. As a wise man once observed, “You have two ears and one mouth – for a good reason.”
Seventh (yes, it is “religious” to end at seven..), God is ever and always the only One you can put your complete trust in. He’s faithful, even if He’s not always comfortable.
Taking my own advice, today I am waiting for Jesus to put my Humpty-Dumpty pieces back together, and I am wondering just how differently He will arrange them, and just how many pieces I thought I needed that I really didn’t. I was a fool to arrange them myself, and the details of my identity are being re-formed, from what I thought they were to what He wants them to be. It is not comfortable – just necessary.
In a sense I’m still adrift, but I’m comfortable in the knowledge that any wind in my sails will be from Him.
Dare to be down, and be honest with yourself; there’s nothing wrong with you. Perhaps now you can better comfort others who are afraid of it.
And don’t be a “religious” person – nobody with any sense listens to them.
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