Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Ignorance of Evil

"She had to hit rock-bottom before she could look up."

"He had to sow his wild oats before settling down."

"You have to live a little and learn from the school of hard knocks."

"How do you know God is real unless you experiment with other things first?"

Is it possible that you could ever truly develop a strong and living faith in God without first messing up your life?  Could someone actually live a decent life, grow to understand the truths of the Bible and then give themselves to serving God wholeheartedly for the rest of their lives without going through some horrible rock-bottom experience?  Does the absence of suffering make them fake Christians?

When my husband was young, he told himself that he believed in God, the Bible and all that stuff, but drugs and alcohol and the friends that came with them were a necessity to really enjoy life.  He made a deal with himself that later in life he'd serve God, but in high school, fun was the priority.  Now he wishes that he had known how real and powerful God is, back then.  He would have saved himself a lot of pain, because in fact none of that stuff was fun, it was just a way to deal with the unhappiness that only disappeared once he surrendered his life to God.

Why is it that the idea of serving God is synonymous with deprivation and no fun whatsoever?  It's a lie that people who grow up in the church fall for every single generation. (One reason why too many churches are desperate to look "cool" as if they have to compete with evil... see exhibit #1 above.)

People - generally young people - see some hypocrisy in church and use that as an excuse to reject God.  They feel restrained by their parents, and so` determine to do whatever they feel like once the restraints are gone, but have no desire to understand the wisdom behind those restraints in the first place.  Evil looks so very cool, and their parents life... something for old people.  So they throw themselves into the stupidity of rejecting God, thinking that they "had to do it to find themselves...."  They may think that they never stopped believing in God, but the moment they stopped obeying Him, they rejected Him.

Unfortunately, many of them never do find themselves.  They get lost in the confusion that they created for themselves.  People who never knew God but live horrible lives can reach rock bottom because deep inside they have a longing for something better - a knowledge that this can't be all there is to life.  But those who already know something better but choose to jump into the pit, rarely hit the bottom.  Their willful rejection of the truth has made their personally designed pit, a bottomless one.  And all they can do is fall, or in a moment of sanity grab a hold of the slippery walls and try their best to climb out - a long and messy process that requires much more self-examination and effort to be free than for those who never knew God in the first place.  

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young; there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose the knowledge of sleep."

Who's smarter, the one who believes he has to hit rock bottom, or the one who chooses to stay out of the pit in the first place?  Sad to say, the answer is not obvious to most.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Laughing at the Days to Come

The wicked plots against the just,
         And gnashes at him with his teeth.
The Lord laughs at him,
         For He sees that his day is coming.  (Psalm 37:12-13)

But you, O LORD, laugh at them;
       you scoff at all those nations.  (Psalm 59:8)

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
      and she laughs without fear of the future.  (Proverbs 31:25)

There's a lot of laughing going on in these verses, isn't there?  But when problems hit us with hurricane force winds, is laughing the first thing that comes to mind?

A joyful heart is a weapon against evil.  Joy in the face of harm is nothing like being mentally unstable or out of touch with reality - though it sure can make us look that way.  It only comes from knowing that if we are joined with God, we have nothing, absolutely nothing to fear.  We can laugh at the problems threatening us because we are sure that together with Him, we have become giants spiritually speaking.  

This kind of joy is impossible to fake.  It comes as a result of a deep and intimate relationship with God. It's like a child who knows without a doubt that his big strong dad loves him and will always protect him.  He can climb into bed between mom and dad late at night during a thunderstorm or after a scary dream and feel that complete sense of peace and comfort. 

Why are there so few Christians who know Him this well?  Does He only reserve this kind of relationship to an elite few?  What if we just started behaving as if He loved us this much, even though we didn't feel like it?  Do you suppose we'd look like fools and fall flat on our faces, or would He be pleased that we are trying? Could it be that our enemies really will collapse because we choose joy instead of fear?   

I guess we'll have to find out for ourselves...!