It’s Damn Lonely Out Here

July 29, 2011

I’ve been going through a lot of spiritual chemotherapy this year.

In my never-ending quest to understand and know God better, I’m realizing more and more that understanding an infinite creator with the ten pounds of squishy gray matter in my noggin is utterly impossible.    To use this analogy: he’s a potter – with IQ, rational thought, self-realization, emotion, etc.

And in comparison I’m an inanimate lump of clay with no intelligence whatsoever that is trying to understand him.

But in the midst of all my non-understanding, I am learning more and more about Christ’s love.  The funny thing is, even though it is the vastest topic on the face of this earth, it is never confusing.  Christ’s love never leaves my questions unanswered and always fills the gaps in my often wounded faith.

So it is to this love that I desire nothing more in this world than to plunge myself into its eternal depths.  I want to view everything – my neighbors, my family, my country, my faith- all reality through the lens of this love.

And this desire scares the hell out of me.

Because when you start to center your existence on this irrepressible and scandalous love, you start to entertain thoughts that God could perform and go infinitely beyond your purest, most loving and most noble of thoughts.

You start to entertain thoughts that, for some odd reason, piss off a lot of Christians.

This is where love collides with the inanimate lump of clay that is theology.  Christianity often puts infinite aspects of God into neat little systems and categories with no wiggle room.  My system is right.  Your system is wrong.  And meanwhile God is in the box we put him in just begging to get out so we would put away our differences and do nothing except stand in awe of his vastness and majesty.

But if I had to put my beliefs into tidy little statements of faith; if I were forced to pick a side, I would have to side with the hope that God’s infinite love and desire to see all reconciled to him would continue to woo the hearts of all men, until ALL eventually choose his love – even if it takes eons.

Embracing this one possibility, this one optimistic hope, has landed me in the town of Evangelical-Excommunication-ville.  This view has made me lose friends, ministerial credibility; I’ve been called a heretic and accused of “believing in man’s ideals and not God’s.”   I’ve been written off as deceived and over-thinking.  I’ve been told I was going to hell.

And I honestly don’t understand why.  Why NOT have the hope that God won’t send billions to eternal torment?  Why NOT feel joy from entertaining the thought that God’s love is so vast and demanding that no one will ever be out of his reach?  Why does this make me a bad Christian or not a Christian at all?  Thoughts like these have made me a better Christian and generally a better human being.  Thoughts like these make me share Jesus to others more since this infectious love that woos, romances, heals and changes you for the better is much more compelling than the gospel of “turn or burn.”

And the thing that bothers me most is if I were to adhere to more reformed theology, no one would think I’m a heretic.  If I were to believe that God pre-destines people into eternal hell, creating them only to roast them forever, no one would bat an eye.

So here I sit in the outfield of modern Christianity.  I have to admit, it gets pretty damn lonely back here.  But I have to tell myself that it’s okay.  It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks because I’m looking for Jesus.  And if my thoughts about him are wrong, I trust that he’ll correct me. I pray for wisdom and understand more than anyone I know.  I suspect that searching for Jesus and not being completely accurate in regards to his character is forgivable, but not coming to him out of fear and piety is truly a sin.

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5 Responses to “It’s Damn Lonely Out Here”

  1. Patricia said

    It may be damn lonely, but you’re not alone. And I for one am glad for Experimental Theology and Thoughts of a Platypus and Four Finger Culture where the likes of myself can find others to talk to about it, even if it is in terms of a faceless long distance thing by typing words on a screen.

    I’m fussing with God right now over the differential between “love your enemy” vs. “do not cast your pearls before swine.” And because they’re family, also “if anyone does not hate his mother and father and come after me, he cannot be my disciple.” Because the reformed theology I grew up in, and have come to see as deeply flawed, and the way I’ve come to believe that this life REALLY DOES MATTER has gotten me ousted. It’s either put up with a LOT of unmitigated scrutiny, word-twisting, wrong assumptions and false accusations (in front of my kids no less) – some have even called this abuse – or walk away from what’s left of my family and wipe the dust from my feet, because I can’t change or reach their hearts, I can’t make them give a damn, and since not-going-to-hell is the whole object of their “beliefs” (and they’ve got that “covered” by their theology), there’s no way to to incline any sort of listening, or love. Love is reduced to a sappy sentimentality; accountability is non-existant with a convenient amnesia or self-justification; and it’s open season on me without restraint, and without protection. And the prayers I’ve prayed over four and a half decades have left me with only one prayer… “Hey God — Really???!!!”

    Okay, I’m venting. But only because I think it’s safe here.

    • Joshua said

      You’re always welcome to vent here. As always, I appreciate your words and value the fact that you read my stuff.

      Oh, and I once heard that “casting your pearls before swine” means that we should explain things on others’ levels so they’ll understand. Which for some Christians, explaining the love of God might require puppets and picture books. =)

      • Patricia said

        Where hearts are hard through the prism of Christian religion (Jim731 explained it perfectly!) there’s no way to get on their level except to become one of them again through flattery and sucking up. just not worth it. The bottom of the pecking order has no power or influence.

  2. Jim said

    Great thoughts Joshua, I could not agree with you more. But know that you are NOT alone, it’s just the orthodox “Christians” who have abandoned you (you know, the ones that used to call themselves your “friends”). Like you, I have been labeled everything from a heretic to a God-hater (that from a Calvinist pastor), but I have learned to enjoy great peace in the fact that I DO disagree with them – that God is not an eternal torturer but an eternal savior.

    Remember, there’s much worse things to be than rejected by orthodox Christians… you could be one of them. 😉

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