Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out of control

I've been pleasantly surprised by the response to my blog post a couple of days back on Richard Dawkins. It has clearly sparked debate between atheists and Christians, whom I don't know personally, and that's a good thing.

  However there is a danger that when we get into these discussions that we can start to take sides and be defnesive, and in our efforts to pursue advancing our opinion, and strong in our belief that our opinion is the right one, we can easily start getting too obsessed with winning the debate. With being right.


  Does it satisfy our ego?
Does it make us feel like we're worth more?
Does it in some way make us feel like we have control over that other person?

  Maybe it can be one or all of those things, but I think they themselves come from something even deeper.


  In my experience and from what I have learnt and observed, people usually get really defensive about something due to fear. Think about it. When you've done something you regret and are trying to hide it from someone, you are afraid they will find out, and its easy to get defensive and argumentative in order to protect ourselves from being found out.

  Now that's not the case here.

  In this case, we get defensive because we are afraid our argument will get found out. We don't fully trust what we believe, or at least we don't know as much as we seem to be letting on.

  This is why it intrigues me when people get defensive or aggresive when discussing their worldview - even if they are Christians.

  I could easily have responded agressively and emotionally to some of the criticism of my arguments, but the truth is I don't need to. No matter how strong or articulate someone's arguments, it doesn't mean I have to agree with them, it doesn't mean I have to take it on board. If my security is truly in my faith and in Jesus, and what He has said about me and about what He's given me to write, then even if people do criticise, it doesn't change anything and I don't have to defend my faith.

  I just need to respond with love. To respond well. If they are making good arguments and they have genuine questions about why I believe or what I believe, of course its right to respond. And its important to ensure that Jesus gets a fair hearing.

  However, when its only about winning an argument, about being better or knowing more, then its really not worth it.

  When Christians get like this about their faith, I am beginning to think its because they believe in Jesus, but on a subconcious level they have put boundaries on this Jesus so that they can control Him to a degree. What I mean is not that they don't have strong faith, or that their God isn't big, but that because of our human nature we can get an idea of a God we can appreciate, understand and agree with and get comfortable with that.

  Its an easy thing to do. I know I haven't. My God hasn't been big enough.

  You see you could get all the human beings who ever lived or ever will live, and get them to think of their wildest, biggest, most imaginiative concept and idea of God, and put them all together, and it still would only be a tiny fraction of who God really is.

  God won't be boxed up.

  You see, God is out of our control.



  Out of our control.

  He is bigger, more powerful, more awesome, mighty, greater than anything we can ever comprehend.

  I believe if we are to know God more deeply and intimately, then we need to understand that concept. That's real faith. Knowing that God has the power to strike us down dead instantly if He chose to, could end our lives right now, can do anything He chooses and is out of our control, and yet choosing to trust our lives to Him anyway. I think when we approach God like this then we can truly know what it is to fear God, and when we fear God we have nothing else to fear.

  When we come to that place of fearing God, God says to us 'Do not be afraid'.

  We see His infinite love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. We meet with Him personally, intimately and powerfully, and have nothing left to fear, and we can know God in a deeper and more intimate way than we ever have done before.

  Nothing anyone says to us or about us, no criticism, no argument, can shake us. We don't need to respond to it apart from in love, because our security doesn't come from our relationships to or interactions with people, but from our relationship with God.

  Criticism can be a good thing. We need it.

  However, instead of waiting for it from people we don't need to respond to, get it from somewhere else.

  I have close, trusted friends who know Jesus and know me well, and who will always be honest with me. Who will tell me when I'm screwing up, when I've hurt someone, when I've made mistakes, when I'm out of order, or when something I've written is a bit dodgy or theologically incorrect. I trust and love these people, and when they give me that criticism - or God convicts me of it directly - then I listen, I examine myself, and respond in whatever way is approriate, with their help.

  But I can ignore other criticism. If people want to have a reasonable, intelligent, mature discussion, then I'll engage with it, directly with that person. I might even learn something new from it, and it can be quite enjoyable to do that in a loving, respectful way. But if all they are interested in is humiliating me, winning an argument or boosting their ego and their words or actions clearly demonstrate this, then I don't even need to read it. I don't need to take any notice.

  Because my security doesn't come from what people say about me, but from God has said about me, what Jesus has done for me and what God has said to me about me. That's it.

  Not works.
Not actions.
Not anything I do.

  Just because God has said He loves me and I'm worth everything to Him - something He wants to sayand is true of us all, equally.

  And our relationships with Him can be stronger as we let go of our need to control, let go of a concept of God that we control, and recognise we have a God out of our control and who we should fear, but whose love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for us is infinite and unconditional.

Posted via email from James Prescott