"Christians are realizing that their version of church involvement, time in the Word, commitment to do right, claiming God's promises, and surrendering to God's power is somehow not getting at the core troubles of their hearts," author Larry Crabb states in the first chapter of his book, INSIDE OUT, almost twenty years ago in 1988.
The premise of Dr. Crabb's book, that 'real changepossible if you're willing to start from the inside out', is not new to the world, which seems to eject another 'self-help' book from its innards every day espousing biblical wisdom in a secular and distorted fashion. Books like The Secret, Living Your Life Today, and a host of others share the focus of helping their readers divine some simplistic or ten step program to finding that eternal joy that we all seek as humans, are unique in their approach but carbon-copies of the same old same old"You think what you feel." Or "Name it and claim it." fame.
Not that I am lumping Dr. Crabb's book into the same category. Rather, Dr. Crabb seems to offer up understanding of why we are not always 'happy' Christians, despite our gracious and merciful Father. I will keep updating as I read deeper in Inside Out.
What this first chapter speaks to me on is this:
Many Christians fail to realize the realities and joyfulness of their faith because when they hold it up to the standards of the worldly 'self-realization' and even the "name, claim, and live" crowd of preachers that are famously lighting the landscape of Christianity today. What happens to those Christians who find that there isn't the happiness and completeness that they've been promised after that tenth step or that simple declaration of promises claimed? They still hurt; they still bleed in a world that seems to be passing them by, handicapped by a God who wouldn't give them the most basic form of peace no matter how high or loud their praises are.
The church of today doesn't seem equipped to answer these deeper theological and spiritual questions that a majority of Christians have. They don't want to go deeper, to experience as a body the collective healing of the Holy Spirit. Leaders are sidelined because their lives aren't perfectly hidden, their brokenness and inability to clear the slate is given as cause to keep them from the calling God has given them. We vett and hemhaw over our leadership's background, being very unChristian in our desire to help them become what God would have them be and not something we think they should be.
We live in fear of our leaders falling to sin. When they do, we act surprised. How could we have missed their sinful, broken state? Aren't they supposed to be 'perfect?'
A loved one dies of a disease that seems to defy the prayers of the faithful or a baby dies despite the desperate pleas of the father and mother, both who are faithful and spiritual giants in the body of Christ.
Random evil affects the righteous while those who would follow the Evil One are abundantly blessed.
The world celebrates those who are steeped in evil, while the righteous are persecuted and killed.
Where was God on 9-11, the Virginia Tech massacre, or that fateful day in Columbine? Why did evil win? What power does our God have if He could not overcome those simple things?
Or did He even care?
Doesn't God promise us joy, peace, and mercy when we experience relationship with Him? Doesn't He promise the hope for a better day?
He does, and it is by our faith that we experience it better some days and not at all on others. It is by our faith that we suffer through, waiting on the storm to pass and God to once again be seen. He has been there all the time, our broken state has distorted our view of Him in that stormy atmosphere.
We should all seek to go deep, to discover those wounds that are at our heart and invite God in to do one of three things;
1) Heal us completely as only the Creator of the Design can.
2) Heal us partially to where the occasional twinge is all we feel.
3) Leave the wound open and bleeding, giving us the grace to suffer through until our bodies are redeemed.
So that we can realize what Paul meant when he said, "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." Philippians Chapter 4:12 NASB.
Realizing joy in the suffering and peace in the pain, still realizing that we are indeed God's children regardless of our emotional state. That I can suffer depression, deal with it through the means God gives me and still realize His purpose to me. I can be broken, depressed, and sad....as a Child of God.
Never shall I lose my Father's love.
Jim is a Senior Ordained Chaplain with Chaplain Service Corp. Answering the call to ministry for the sake of all men, focusing on God, Jim writes and pursues with faith the plans of His Father wherever that may lead. www.chapel-michigan.blogspot.com
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