The Toughest Phrase for a Christian to Say

We Christians have a lot to say about everything although too often, our words turn out to say a lot about very little, burning the air about us with our speech (and vice versa). For all our holy verbosity, there is a phrase that rolls off our tongues with great difficulty, if at all. This phrase would end so many of those shallow arguments disguised as Bible studies before they’d even begun but enrich the real Bible studies. Alas, mouths that yell complex words such as sanctification and justification mixed with glorification can’t even breathe the simple line: I DON’T KNOW

Is our strong reluctance to admit that the borders of our knowledge are much closer than we dare to think a vestige of the church’s reaction to the Enlightenment’s accusation of Christianity being little more than a glorified “Pie-in-the-sky by and bye” scam? After the Enlightenment’s onslaught on religion, a number of churches frantically repackaged their creeds and beliefs to suit the world. Thus, faithfulness came to be measured by the ability to articulate abstract ideas that would be used to pigeonhole members. Words such as liberal and conservative were hurled as insults from believer to believer. 

Small wonder it is then folks measuring their spirituality by the length and breadth of their knowledge would find it very difficult to admit that there are limits to knowledge. Jesus, however, did not say that discipleship is proven by unlimited knowledge but by love for each other.

 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34&35 The Message)

Christianity lies not in what you know but in who you know: it is relational. Far from memorising abstract theological concepts, Christianity is about treating each other as valuable beings. It is the elder acknowledging the young ladies’ significance by listening to their stories. It’s the pastor hugging the weeping child who’s just grazed a knee on the pavement. It is two friends arguing over scripture with arms around each other. Perfect theological doctrine is indispensable but only so far as it leads to unity in relationship. Period. Theological differences will always be here but it’s the way we treat each other that matters most. So don’t be afraid to say those hard words…

I DON’T KNOW 

Satan is a Staunch Believer

Satan is a believer. He shares our most cherished beliefs. He believes in the existence of God, in fact, they are on first-name basis. He doesn’t have to believe Genesis’ Creation story because he was there, watching it all happen. He witnessed the prophets of old writing the books of the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He even has selfies that he posed for at Calvary. I’m told, one shouldn’t even mention the Second Coming in his hearing because he flies into fits of anger, screaming, “Eish! Time is running out!”

Satan could easily pass any examination on any tenet of doctrinal theology. He could accurately retell the events outlined in the Bible. There are details He can furnish that we don’t know: Joseph’s coat size, Moses’ favourite manna recipes, David’s dance moves and Bathsheba’s favourite brand of soap. Satan’s knowledge of the Bible is much more expansive than ours.

Don’t get me started on prayer! He has had face-to-face discussions with God. He shows more honesty with God than most believers do in their prayers. There is no question about his feelings and opinions on God. We, on the other hand, don’t tell God when we aren’t happy with Him because we only pray to get out of trouble and for our enemies to get in trouble. Just how dumb do we think God is anyway?

If Satan accurately knows doctrinal theology, religiously reads the Bible and is more open to God about his feelings than a lot of believers, why then is he an enemy? Satan has no trust in God and so doctrine (a fancy synonym for teaching), Bible study and prayer produce no real positive effects in his life (James 2:19). There’s absolutely no point in having the right beliefs (as important as that is) if they are held outside a relationship with God. How sweet it would be if we studied, taught and prayed within the context of relationship! God’s love would fill our hearts and overflow into those we encountered.

photo credit: pray via photopin (license)

Of Really Stupid Prayers and Windy Lullabies

Don’t tell me about how He calmed the storm or how He walked on water. He is God, that was easy enough. Tell me about how He snored in a boat tossed by the foaming billows. For too long I’ve gazed at the winds and the waves hoping to find their ears so that I too may still them when they toss my boat to and fro. I’ve wasted too much time inspecting Jesus’ larynx, hoping to find which frequencies He uses to calm angry waves and howling wind. Too much energy have I expended studying his feet so that I too might dance on water.

I’ve prayed stupid prayers:

“God make me happy,”

“God take away my country’s troubles,”

“God give me a perfect wife.” Continue reading “Of Really Stupid Prayers and Windy Lullabies”

You’re a Man so Start Crying

When did it become wrong for men to cry? Did their cheeks suddenly become too fragile to bear the weight of cascading tears? Perhaps we ought to remove the offending tear glands, numb our nerves and discard our hopes. It would appear, each tear that escapes our eyes dissolves our muscles and eats away at our faith for who hasn’t heard a weeping man being encouraged to be strong and mourning Christian being quizzed about his faith’s whereabouts? Rubbish! Continue reading “You’re a Man so Start Crying”

It’s Sad Being God Sometimes

How sad it must be to be God at times. To have the world you created perfect marred by the very people you bequeathed it to must fill the heart with pain. Yet the same people inflict even more pain on God by blaming Him for the results of human folly.

When faced with pain, we scream and rail against Him as if He is beyond pain. Do we ever stop to think what it’s like for God to have intimate knowledge of all the pain in the world? Does it ever occur to us to offer words of comfort to God? I didn’t think so. We are too busy trying to pin the blame on somebody and since God is closest to us when the pain hits, it’s just too easy to blame Him. No wonder we never offer Him any words of comfort. We never say,

“Hey God, you spent a whole day viewing suffering humanity. You comforted people who were too busy complaining to take a moment to comfort you too, much less, thank you. That’s got to be rough. I’m sorry.” Continue reading “It’s Sad Being God Sometimes”

Will God make up His Mind?

Why does God seem to vacillate between justice and mercy? Why can’t He just make up His mind? It seems he sits on a pendulum and swings arbitrarily between the two “extremes”. Some say He was pure justice in Old Testament times and then changed to pure mercy in the New. Others paint a picture of a stern unyielding God with Jesus as the only one standing between us and His undiluted wrath. I won’t even mention the doting grandfather some have made God out to be. How on earth are we ever to reconcile justice and mercy? Can they be reconciled anyway? Continue reading “Will God make up His Mind?”