Friday, October 08, 2010
This is Our Father's - Ugly - World
...but Christians know the glory story but they don't know the cross story. The glory story is that the Christian path is one of glory, observable, overcoming, obviously seen glories as the Christian triumphs over all his enemies. Thus, the Christian has ears to hear the stories of miraculous healings and beatific deaths because those are glory stories. These people live in a world where we can practice a mechanistic kind of magic with God. For the health freaks, if I would just I would just imbibe a magic potion concocted by nutritional wizards then like magic I would be healed. In the spiritual version, a performance of certain rituals of self-exam followed by the prescribed repentance and obedience would free me from my physical ailments. In any case, whereas doctors are reticent to describe what brought on the cancer simply because the factors that can contribute to any given cancer are innumerable, the glory-story folks know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I brought this cancer on myself and it is up to me to reform myself physically or get right with God. In each case, suffering is not something a Christian should have to endure and God's only role in it His deliverance of us from it, if we will meet the conditions.I read that and I think that generally people have not ever really learned how to hope - becasue they have no source for it. They live in a state of denial or they talk about diets or whatever avoiding the fact that Jesus is the only source of hope.
The cross story says that suffering is the path of the Christian. If you are a Christian, more than likely you will not go gently into that good night, and I am not using that phrase in its original context. In the original context Dylan Thomas urges us to rage and fight against death until the last moment. What I am saying is that if you are Christian your death and maybe even the years leading to it, may not be gentle.
That is the ugly truth I want to write about and I will try to write some more about in coming days is that we still live in a fallen world. We should no more expect an easy life and death than did the apostles who often died gruesome deaths, nor should we expect greater ease than the many Christians throughout most of history who have met Christ face to face at the end of starvation, disease, or persecution.
The ugly truth is that the fall still applies and the fall means that the Christian path is a cross bearing path - if you are a Christian expect that life will be harder than you initially imagined it would
The beautiful reality is that the fall cannot obscure God. God is near and dear to the broken hearted. Often in the midst of great pain one senses the presence of God - I know I have. It's not something that can be seen or articulated and in fact those who watch you suffer would probably conclude that God is not there. But the theology of the cross teaches that God hides Himself in suffering, He does not display Himself. I think that's one of the big differences between glory story people and cross people. The glory-storyists want God to display Himself - obviously, to the sight, publicly, in spectacular ways. The cross people believe that God is a God who is quiet, hidden away, is masked in His creation, but is especially made known in suffering.
We seem to want results now, when our hope lies in eternity. And when I read that something else occurs to me - So many people of faith still put hope into miracle diets and and other nonsense when they clearly know better. They treat God like a Christmas present, once the novelty of His genuine miracles is over, they fail to notice His miracles at all.
God works miracles in our lives everyday, just not always the ones we want. As trite as this may sound, the profundity of Jollyblogger's post here is a miracle. Of course, the miracle I most want is for his healing, his complete and uncomplicated healing, but God has, at the moment chosen a different miracle, one in which He has used David to raise the level of Godblogging.
I thank God for that miracle while I pray fervently for Him to remove the circumstance that produced it, all the while finding hope in the miracle God has produced.
Sometimes as Christians when we look at a field of weeds with a single flower in it we need to focus on the flower and ignore the weeds. Sometimes the flower will overwhelm the weeds instead of us having to pull the weeds.