Ah gee! Snapped at another platitude-speaking friend. Lately, I've been getting annoyed with these women who think they are Christian "teachers" who go around giving seminars.
The Bible tells us to "be not many teachers" but the US has so many...and they are good people who read their Bible but when they read, they read with all their inherited and traditional assumptions. I had to snap at a friend -- to defend God and to prevent hurt for innocent folks she may meet. She said, "Ever heard that God won't give you more than you deserve? Well, God will continue to give you more than you deserve until you come to the end of yourself and realize you need his power." I was like, "oh my God, she didn't just say that!" So, has the poor woman in Africa who has lost eight of her children in war "not come to the end of herself and learned to rely on God?" Then I told her the Bible said, "God will not allow us to be tempted more than we should." TEMPTATION, not SUFFERING. So she got mad at me. But it made me very upset because this sort of weird theology is being preached all over the land by people who want to "do a work for the Lord." I told her, "Do you know how many people have lost faith in a loving God and have turned away from Christ because of stupid comments like this?" She got all flustered and thought I was being mean. Trust me, I wasn't being as mean as I could've been.
Seriously, sometimes when a certain kind of Christian starts praying for the sick I want to cry out, "God, stop this person!" And when they start pontificating/comforting etc, I find myself thinking, "Oh my God! Seriously? Seriously? You're telling this sick person that God gave her this sickly child because she was strong enough to bear it!???" My mouth drops in horror at how far from the good news this kind of stuff is.
But when you tell someone that she should go check her Bible and she gets all snippy, it just seems to me that some Christians are not willing to move from their biases. Perhaps they don't want to admit that they don't know something or that they have done damage or that they really don't know God or the Bible in the way they think they do. But there's a lack of humility there. If someone tells me I did something wrong, it totally hurts but I DO try to see their point of view. Not many Christians, especially the self-styled teachers. And it just makes me think we should all be eating spiritual meat but we're either eating spiritual milk -or tainted milk.
So, breaking down what she said: "God will give you more than you're able to bear until you don't change and to come to the end of yourself and realize your powerlessness" !!!!!!
Typically, she is falling into the "God is sovereign" trap. Just like folks who assume that what God does in Job's life is what he does in everyone's life. Or someone messing up the verse, "God will make a way out of temptation."
Yes, God is sovereign but not in the way many Christians believe it. God has made us co-laborers with him. Many Christians misuse the idea of the sovereignty of God. Hey, John the apostle --Jesus' friend-- said, "The whole world lies under the control of the evil one." Jesus told us to occupy til he come." God sows light, not darkness.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Again, co-laborers with God.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Again, to know the truth that sets us free we must continue in his word. How many Christians think they know the word but really are only hearing an interpretation of it?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Nowhere does it say that bad comes from God. If we really think of it. It says things work together for good. If we love God, God can make it work for our good.
But somehow, subtly this moves to God being the cause of evil. Jesus said, "God sends rain for good farmers and bad farmers; he sends sunshine for good farmers and bad farmers." God is a good God. Paul said, "It is the goodness of God that brings people to repentance." The goodness of his healing them, the goodness of his delivering them. God's message is entirely good news. True, Evil comes into our lives but unless we have been lifted up to see some great revelation of God, none of us are given thorns by God. Some sicknesses are sicknesses unto death and James and John both seem to think that those sicknesses are difficult to prayed for. "I do not say that you should pray for it." Even then, Sickness is always viewed in the New Testament as a curse, not as something given by God to be a blessing to teach people to come to him.
The myth of the blueprint -- that everything that happens in our lives is part of God's plan-- has a bit of Hindu karma, a bit of Islamic surrender, a bit of Buddhist submission. Christianity tells us to fight evil with good. God has given us resources: the sword of his word, praise, the church, communion, etc, healers in the church, to heal us. (And no, the Bible doesn't say the minister is the one who necessarily has the gift of healing.) All Christians have the authority and power to heal when they are evangelizing. The power comes to help convert folks. But within the church, God has raised up healers. And it is the faith of the corporate church (2 or more and Christ in the midst of them) or the person with the gift of healing that is supposed to raise the sick person, not generally the sick person's own faith. (Although God will use that too if the person has no one else. But the church generally blames the sick person or God, not the minister.)
God is able to use the adversity that comes into our lives. He has given the church the power to heal. He has given us the mind of Christ. He will give us wisdom to get out of the problem. But he does not usually cause it in order to make us holy. We cause it, or the devil causes it, but when someone dies from cancer or from heart attack or a child is born with an illness, God did not do it. So why do people say all this? Because unbelief is a great theologian, because the church lost its way, because the gospel is too-good-to-be-believed and we have the fear of man which brings a snare. We don't want to look ridiculous by commanding an illness to go.
There are tons of stuff in the world that God has nothing to do with. But there is nothing that God and we cannot conquer. We are colaborers with God. We have the treasure of God's authority and God's power in earthen -- often broken-- vessels. So when this acquaintance of mine went on with her platitude, I said (cause I am really zealous for God's honor) "Do you know how many people have lost their faith because some person said some platitude about God being in charge of all the trouble that came to them? You are teaching folks all over this country and it scares me that you have that kind of theology." So, yeah, now she's p*ssed.
So then, what are we to do? We are to believe. Only believe. EVERYTHING.
More and more I realize that the gospel invites us to something too wonderful to be true and YET it is. Dare I believe my son will talk? Yes I do. Have I been following what God has been telling me to do? Not really, Not over the past 19 years. But now...I have decided to follow Jesus, not the traditional theology-of-unbelief that is being said in Christian churches -- whether it's the Catholic church or the pentecostal church. Let us read the Bible and see what it actually says. And, with trial and error, embarrassments and fear and trembling, learn to use the gifts of the spirit God has given us. We were put on earth to conquer demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, have words of knowledge, have words of wisdom, prophesy. Not the present church's platitudes or traditions about them..but as God's holy spirit teaches us day by day.
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