I’m always tempted to laugh when someone tells me that they’re a ‘super strong Christian.’
“My faith is really strong,” the kid in the gym locker room told me the other day.
Like, did Jesus die extra good for you? Did you do more to earn the overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God? Did you pay for your own grace?
I’m always curious.
It’s like those people who superstitiously believe that if this famous pastor laid hands on them and prayed for them, they’d be healed of that chronic disease. And that’s how those deceptive pastors get rich. Call yourself an Apostle. Call yourself a New Prophet. Call yourself a Strong Christian, but you’re just the same as the rest of us. I feel like the strength of your Christianity (that phrase…ugh) can be measured in a single question:
Have you ever sinned?
If not, then yes, you are a strong Christian and you are, indeed, the Messiah.
If you have, welcome to the club. There’s a seat for you here at the table, scooted up by the sinless One Himself.
Just like in my previous post, you can add as many scoops of ice cream as you want to a pile of roaches, but you’ll never make it an appealing platter. However, all you need is one insect to utterly ruin a giant bowl of ice cream. It’s easy to taint and contaminate; much harder to cleanse and redeem.
Are you a strong Christian? Does your dessert have a few less roaches on it? Or are you down here with the rest of us, kneeling on the level ground before the cross?
A month ago a girl broke my heart.
The fact that it hasn’t healed shows that it was broken more deeply than I previously thought. Sometimes the ripping off of the band-aid hurts more than the actual wound. Sometimes you need to be wounded again to see where the deepest cuts hide.
Maybe this is why God sometimes allows our tissue to be severed. So He can not only heal the fresh, superficial laceration, but so that He can get to the root of the issue. That porn addiction or alcoholism. That reason you gotta stay high or always be in work mode.
I heard an old Jewish idiom once. A rabbi said to a young disciple, “My son, do you know why the Scriptures say to set the Word of God on your heart, and not in it?” The boy listened intently as the rabbi continued. “So that when your heart breaks, Scripture will run down into it and fill the cracks like water into a fractured dam.”
I’ve said it once and I’ll probably say it a billion more times before I go:
Me: “I struggle to fall in love with invisible things.”
Paul: “Those who live according to the flesh desire the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit desire the things of th-“
Me: “Yah I know, Paul but howwwww do you desire the things of the Spirit? How do you long for the Glorious Unseen? How do you pine for the Intangible? I’ve held a girl or two in my day, and (not to give too much undeserved credit to Hozier here), sometimes I feel more in those moments than I do in church!”
Paul: “What’s a Hozier?”
It’s easier to wrap your arms around a human and feel love flow between the two of you, requited. Or, if you’re eternally single like me, to long for that moment. It’s much harder to wrap your arms around our God, who Scripture tells us is a Spirit, and feel much love flow in either direction.
We’ve got Stockholm Syndrome for the world.
She’s taken captive our attention and our desires and is refusing to give them back. She doesn’t play fair. She invents things like women’s soft shoulders and lamb jerky risotto and expects us to stay focused on invisible (or tasteless) things.
But look, now I’ve gone and waxed Gnostic.
They preach, All matter is bad and all spirit is good. Not true of our God. He made a good world. A world that spins and pops and sizzles. A world that sometimes is too hot and sometimes is too cold and sometimes is just right. And risotto is very good, as are these funky bodies we inhabit. I think the mindset I’m looking for is that wonderful balance: That ability to worship the Creator of these good things more than the objects themselves.
Paul: “For everything created by God is good, and noth-“
Me: “Stay out of this, Paul, I’ve got it from here.”
(I’m making this up as I go along, can you tell? Thanks for letting me think out loud. [Who did it better, me or Ed Sheeran?])
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine any goodness remaining in this flesh of mine.
Sometimes it’s difficult to acknowledge beauty untwisted by lust.
I’ve only been at this whole living thing for about 26 years, but it hasn’t gotten much easier to figure out. When I was 17, I thought I’d have the world figured out by now. Turns out, 10k years of human history takes a little bit longer to sift through and learn from, much less 2,000 years of Christian history alone!
But God is good.
And like that freaking wonderful song says, I long for that day when my faith will be sight. I also long for the day when my faith will be touch, smell, hearing, and taste! For that reason, as I often do, I conclude with the earliest of Christian prayers: Maranatha! Come swiftly, Lord Jesus! Make all things new.
So may we fall in love with invisible things.
May you join me down here, with the other weak, frail, and dirty Christians.
And may your heart break, that it may be filled more with the Water of Life.
Wow! This is beautiful. Your writings never fail to amaze me. So good. Ethan, don’t let those girls break your heart. Like I’ve mentioned before, God has someone for you. Just wait.
Some of the most relatable writing comes from an unplanned stream of written thought. Thank you for helping me define what I feel.
“It’s easier to wrap your arms around a human and feel love flow between the two of you, requited… It’s much harder to wrap your arms around our God, who Scripture tells us is a Spirit, and feel much love flow in either direction.” This is where I am too. I’ve recently been stripped away of some really tangible comforts that I relied too much on. When that happens (like you with the girl who just broke your heart)… it reveals some intimidating weaknesses and helplessness. How the heck are we supposed to have utter reliance on our Father… while also remaining confident in gifts He’s given us for interacting with this tangible world? I don’t think we’ll ever figure it out.
I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing okay. We’re not expected to gracefully master living a Christian life. I think God wants you to know He sees you trying and He smiles at that. Keep fighting for balance.
also my blog is annamaerourke.wordpress.com if you wanna follow it 🙂
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