Gay marriage. Abortion. War. Divorce. Hell. What do these topics have in common? Their ability to divide Christians. We choose a side and often resent those on the other side. We plant our feet, grit our teeth and declare, “No God of MINE…” would agree with our opposition. We find ourselves determined to paint the image of God that we desire to be true.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can confess that there are many issues that do not seem to have 100% clear direction from God. This is uncomfortable. I find myself wanting, hoping that God is on the side I want Him to be on. If He’s not, then what does that mean? It seems to contradict my image of Him being loving or fair or whatever characteristic I desperately cling to. If He’s not who I think He should be then what does that mean about me? What kind of person am I if I believe in a God that isn’t my image of perfection?
In my marriage, sometimes my husband has difficulty seeing things clearly. In other words, sometimes he disagrees with me. I try and try to help him see the light (aka MY way) but he’s only human. So you know, I cut him some slack. I love him. There are many things I love about him that have nothing to do with, say, his movie preferences. I married him, I am committed to loving him whether we agree on everything or not.
Using marriage as a metaphor for our relationship with God is good but it’s limited. Let me first address the limitations. First of all, I am not God and neither is my husband so there is no certain objective Truth in our disagreements. We are both human, flawed and biased. God is perfect. When He says something is a certain way, it IS. No questions asked.
If we disagree with God, we are at fault, not Him. This calls us to a place of humility. We accept His grace and ask Him to help our hearts understand His wisdom. We ask to be more like Him.
Except we don’t. Well, I don’t anyway. Let me return to the martial metaphor. Instead of asking God for His wisdom and grace, we are tempted to either fight or flee. What do you do in your relationships normally? Do you fight, do you hide, do you begrudgingly comply? Whatever we do in other relationships is what we will do with God.
How do handle difference? When your spouse disagrees with you on a serious topic. Do you panic? Do you suddenly call into question all of their admirable characteristics? Do you fight to make them see your point of view? I know I struggle with that. So when God seems to be someone I don’t like (like a violent mercenary in the Old Testament, for example) my tendency is to fight against it.
Here’s the problem: instead of resting in all of the things I know to be true about God (He exists, He is loving, He is just, etc.) I immediately call everything into question. I quickly forget that I am human and have limited understanding. I panic and fear that I will be associated with a mean-spirited God. I fear what I have signed myself up for as a Christian.
But here’s the thing, when I married my husband I didn’t marry him because I thought he would agree with me on everything. I married him because I admire his character. In my relationship with God, I didn’t choose to follow Him because of His view on any particular issue. I chose to follow Him because I came to see that He really is God. I believe without a doubt that Jesus walked this earth and died as the Savior. Those things cannot be denied.
There will be times when I am confused about God. This is inevitable because (for the umpteenth time) I am human and He is divine. There will be many times when I will disagree with other Jesus-followers about doctrine. Yet this cannot mean that I run from relationship with God and/or my fellow brothers and sisters. It means I must diligently remain in the awkward space of my humility and confidence. I am humbled by my limited understanding, I am confident with what I know to be true. If I refuse to stay engaged, I will never come to a place of resolution. Even if that place of resolution means that I change my mind or that I become at peace with not knowing all of the answers.
Fellow brothers and sisters, I implore you to not get caught up in issues that frustrate you but to continue to press into your relationship with God and your faith community. Just as you would fight for your marriage, fight for those relationships with too. Don’t be content with mediocre relationships and don’t abandon them either. The more we press in, the more we can become like God and hope to understand His ways. Admittedly, I’m writing this to myself as much as I am to you. I get so frustrated with those who disagree with me. I hate feeling like I don’t understand God or others. It takes so much for me to continue on the path towards relationship.
During this special time of Easter when we reflect on Christ’s love and sacrifice maybe we can put aside our differences and frustration. We can be united in knowing this to be true: God is love and from that love He sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us that we would not perish but have everlasting LIFE! (1 John 4:16; John 3:16) The love expressed may not make sense to us, but our lack of understanding is our own shortcoming, not God’s.
This was originally written and posted for the church RockHarbor Orange our faith community. If you’d like to see this article in it’s original form click here.