One of my children passed along a recent Thought Catalog installment entitled “Why I’m Not a Christian,” http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/why-i-am-not-a-christian/.
It’s the story of a self-described obedient, church-going adolescent who became a Bible-reading college student and decided to “renew his faith by ‘praying the prayer’” through Campus Crusade for Christ and to give his life to God.
Life was good, but he had an overriding desire: a wife. Wives, after all, are a good thing. (Proverbs 18:22) This is where the story takes a turn.
Overwhelmed with desire but realizing sex outside marriage is outside God’s plan, this young man struggled. He eventually fell into a cycle of Internet pornography, masturbation and guilt. He says he still prayed, believing God for the wife of his dreams.
While working at a Christian group home, he was convinced he’d found his wife, working right alongside him. Problem was, she wasn’t interested.
A year passed. The 25-year-old virgin met a woman on MySpace and flew from South Dakota to Alabama to meet her. They were “naked just hours after meeting at the airport.” The girl, however, was remorseful. By the time his flight landed back home, she had left him a phone message saying:
“what we were doing. It just wasn’t right. I need a man who is going to be a spiritual leader. He shouldn’t be going to bed with me so easily.”
That was the decisive blow. He now considers himself an atheist. He was a good boy, delighting himself in God. (Psalm 37:4) God didn’t meet his expectations, so He must not exist.
My child wanted to know what I thought about this. My answer: Everyone wants a Savior; nobody’s looking for a Lord. Jesus Christ, however, is both Savior and Lord. It’s a package deal.
If we accept Jesus as Savior, He also becomes our Lord. That means He decides what we need, when we need it and how we receive it. His goal is not necessarily to make us happy, healthy and wealthy. God is focused on making us holy, conforming us to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)
Our role is to submit to His will, out of love and trust, choosing to humble ourselves. It’s not a one-time event. Committed Christians make that choice over and over again, one decision after another for a lifetime. It can be tough to do, even for the most dedicated souls.
God sometimes asks us to submit to things we don’t like: denying a natural desire for sex until He provides the right mate; working for a jerk when we might be more capable; walking through chemo and radiation while knowing God has the power to miraculously heal without human intervention.
He sometimes allows us to be disappointed, to suffer. And He doesn’t always explain why. He doesn’t have to. He is God. He suffered much more on the cross to save us than we ever will in obeying Him.
We humans rebel against all this. We naturally resent any and all authority. We don’t want anyone telling us what we can and cannot do. We want to be equal partners in a neat “religion” where I do my part and God does His. Even seasoned saints can struggle deep down with believing we know what’s best for us: who we should date or marry, what job suits us etc. We get angry when God doesn’t follow our script and quietly accuse Him of “not meeting our needs.”
Like the Thought Catalog guy, we can make an idol out of our unmet needs. I know. I’ve been there, done that more times than I’d like to admit. I’m thankful that God forgives when we repent; and He grants “do overs.”
It may be hard to accept, but God is not in the business of granting wishes. He is about transforming us. (Romans 12:2). He molds; He shapes; He whittles – working all of it for our good. (Romans 8:28)
Consider these possibilities:
- Suppose the Thought Catalog guy really didn’t want a wife as much as he wanted sex?
- Suppose God “failed” to produce a wife on his time schedule because he wasn’t ready for one?
- Suppose the wait was meant to reveal his need to grow in the fruit of the Spirit which is self-control or self-discipline? (Galatians 5:23)
- Suppose the woman he quickly bedded was God’s choice for a wife had he been able to exhibit that self-control?
People who truly love God don’t serve Him for what we can get but because of what He already has given: Himself. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are granted fellowship and communion with God, total access with an open invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace and find mercy and help when we need it. (Hebrews 4:16)
God Himself is our “exceeding great reward.” (Gen 15:1) Not a wife, not a husband, not a job or any other dream come true. That stuff is extra, like whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles topping a good mocha latte.
When we’re in a relationship, it all comes down to love. Did the Thought Catalog guy – do we – really love God? Jesus says to His followers, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 NLT)
Christianity is a love relationship, not an obligatory transaction. (John 3:16) God is love, but He doesn’t assume love on our part. He says, If we love and If we want to follow. It’s our choice.
When we choose to go our own way, like the Thought Catalog guy, what we’re really saying is we just don’t love Him enough.
Think about it.