Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Counts

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8

When I was a little girl, I always had something to say. My mom called it talking back; my teachers called it talking too much.

Whether I was in class, but I just couldn't wait to say something to my friend sitting behind me (which eventually led to a Needs Improvement on my progress report because of how often it happened :P), or I was sitting around the dinner table and my mom would request that I please stop rambling so she could get a word in, I was (am) a motor mouth. My grandfather just laughed about it and told me to become a newscaster :).

Every once in awhile, I would actually say something worthwhile. For instance, one Sunday morning in 4th grade, my mom and I were getting ready for church. I hated wearing dresses; I despised looking too girly (but at the same time, I still had a million and one dolls in my room, go figure). My mom asked me to please dress nicely for church, and I was feeling rather smart that morning (sarcasm) and decided to "talk back" and give her the following response:

But doesn't God not care what we look like on the outside, isn't it what's on the inside that counts the most?

My mom's response? Well, for once she actually didn't reprimand me for "talking back"; I was rather taken back by that, actually. She simply responded with a...


Needless to say, that day I got to wear shorts and a t-shirt to church, which was pretty much what I wore every day growing up in sunny Los Angeles until that age. I was convinced that God had pardoned me for talking back, at least this one time :).

Years later, I eventually became a bible study leader in college precisely because I talked so much. I asked a lot of questions, but some of them weren't as welcome as the others. so it seemed. For lack of a better term, I enjoyed playing the devil's advocate because I felt God gave us all a brain that he wanted us to use. I still feel that way.

I like to question what most consider solid beliefs because I wonder just how solid they are and how much they deviate from Christ's original message, let's just say I think the term "Christian" is misused and abused like crazy. It really makes me sad when I see someone who has totally lost their faith in God, or has never found it to begin with, because of how much the term "Christian" disturbs them, thanks to the ignorant "fan club". I know it hurts God's heart more than mine, but then I wonder if I'm living up to his standards, or if I'm too busy talking back.

I once read a bumper sticker that says "I have no problem with God, it's his fan club I can't stand" -- hence my use of the term above. I have to admit, I thought it was rather funny, but I was also saddened by it. I laughed because of how much truth it holds, but then reflected on the many ways that statment is the reason why so many people have given up on having a relationship with God altogether.

I believe our relationship with God is supposed to be a very personal one. Though I also believe that fellowship with others is important, I think it tends to take center stage too much and lead to a herd mentality. It can get so bad that we no longer question things because when someone responds to a claim with a Well, it's in the bible, we take it as fact instead of researching it ourselves and figuring out how much truth is in that claim. Again, God did give us a brain. I honestly believe most of these claims are founded on someone's misguided/self-imposed legalistic beliefs. When I give a counter response in moments like that, I feel 9 again; figuratively speaking, I'm the one asking why we get so caught up in what we're wearing instead of what God wants to see in us, or what he really wants us to be like.

So this is an issue that's weighing heavy on me, and I'm wondering how much my disappointment with the aforementioned has influenced my own perspective on God. I know that I don't spend as much time getting to know him as I should, and I do believe part of it has to do with the fact that I don't have a "group" to help hold me accountable. But I'm skeptical of groups, like I said.

So here I am again, dusting myself off. Waking up early in the morning, hungry for a real spiritual breakfast; reaching for my devotional and hoping for some hope. Hmm... then I read this: I have always believed in God. But it wasn't until I began devoting myself to His Word that I had something tangible that I could hang on to when times got rough. (From Live on Purpose for Women by J.M. Farro)

Revisiting this again: I don't have a problem with God, it's his fan club I can't stand...

So who do we turn to when times get rough? This is why I find that bumper sticker so sad, because I have to ask myself who we turn to if we live by what that sticker says. I'm not talking about turning to a group of people, God already said people would disappoint us, but I wonder what would happen if all of us turned our eyes away from what everyone else was doing and thinking and rested them on who God really is. Thankfully, we don't have to go through anyone else and their distorted beliefs in order to get to God, we can go directly to him. Unlike everyone else, he isn't pointing fingers -- he just has his hand outstretched, waiting for us to take hold of it and see the scars that prove he's the only intercessor we need.


The Librarian said...

It's so interesting that both of us touched a little on religious fanaticism.

I find that I have a better relationship with God when I am by myself. For some it is better to find a group to share ideas and thoughts of God and religion, but for me I find that I am always better when I am personal with God. Because I have many scattered, wide-range ideas of spirituality and God, I find it is so much easier to have a personal relationship then try to share it with a group of people that have their own ideas of what Religion is. In a way, I am being selfish because I don't want to share my God. But it helps me with my own morality and religion.

A Loner, Dottie. A Rebel. said...

I understand how you feel. Sadly, so many of us (myself included sometimes) get so caught up in the legalism that we forget that God is about love, grace and peace.

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