Friday, June 27, 2014
Where We (Should) Stand
One of the strong tenants of evangelicalism is one’s personal relationship with Jesus. You are saved when you invite Jesus into your heart. We are told not to pursue “religion,” but rather a “relationship.” And that relationship is a personal one with Jesus. Me and Jesus, we got a good thing going …Amen!
And in all I was hearing in church and in Christian music and in Christian books was that God wanted to take care of all of my needs. He wanted me to be happy and entertained. I never need suffer through a bad day. As a matter of fact, I never need suffer. God loved me, and he knew all of my needs. He knew all of my felt needs, and he stood at the ready to meet all those needs. All I had to do was to … believe, pray, give, have faith, confess. Actually, there was a lot I had to do, but the bottom line was I was very important to God, so important that he took up residence in my heart, sticking very close in case I had the slightest want or need.
Have you heard the difference between dog and cat theology? A dog who lives in a house says of the man in charge, “He feeds me, he gives me shelter, he pets me. He must be God.” A cat in the same house says, “He feeds me, he gives me shelter, he pets me. I must be God.” After 40 years of this personal relationship, of everything being focused on my needs, I had become God. And I am tired of being who I was never made to be.
There is a God, and I’m very comfortable saying that I am not He.
Evangelicalism has tried to entertain me. It has tried to make me happy. It has tried to sooth me when I am in despair. In everything it has made it clear that I am the center of God’s universe, the very reason that the sun rises and sets each day. And after 40 years, I now see that has been a lie. I do want a relationship with God, but not one where I set the terms. I don’t want to get my own way just because I feel like it. I want to know God as he knows himself to be, not as I wish him to be.
Evangelicalism tried to tell me I was God. I’m not. I’m Jeff. I’m a mess on my best days. I make a much better dog than cat.
Evangelicalism church faith