What if I told you that I’ve had it with this whole Christianity thing? What if I said that I have seen enough hypocrisy, enough unanswered questions, and enough unfulfilled promises that I’m simply done with my faith? Would you pray for me? Cheer for me? To the Christians specifically: would part of that resonate with you?
Because I’ve been right up to the brink of this very think about five-hundred times in the last few weeks. I’ve cried out against the God that I’ve wondered about, the God I’ve questioned if He hears, yet fearing somehow that He hears far too much. I deserve pestilence, lightning bolts, and hell fire, and part of me wants just that, if only to know for sure that I’ve been wrong all along.
Faith is hard. I long for a tangible god, but I don’t get one. It would be great to have a temple where I’d have to sacrifice a bounty of fruit and livestock on a regular schedule, just so I could feel some connectedness to something holy. That putrid smell of blood, paired with walking up and down some sacred hill, just might be the ticket. Ritual really would make a suitable god, requiring regular service to be maintained. Of course, it must come complete with a quirky cleric in an ornate robe to make everything feel more official.
Instead, the my God requires no ritual. The daily devotional time of prayer and Bible reading is not compulsory, and therefore becomes perfunctory, if not altogether extinct. There are no dress codes or thick rule books (except those written and enforced by the Pharisees of the day). Anyone who will come can serve my God. There are no membership cards, no annual feast with blood sacrifice, no chanting and acceptance of His prophet on earth. Nothing.
I am more than certain that the Bible teaches the miraculous move of God. I’m not a cessationist, and I believe that speaking in tongues, prophecy, and divine healing is all still good and still available. But I fear that my hunger for these things has been misplaced. Biblically, these things exist as an overflow of God’s love. Just as God’s love for us was made manifest in the appearance of Christ (1 John 4:9-10), God’s love required that Jesus would destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), which absolutely includes sin and death, but also sickness. And healing followed the teachings of Christ, both to prove His words as truth (Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24), and more importantly, to free people from what held them in bondage. Truly, and in every aspect, the love of God is supposed to set people free. Jesus couldn’t help but heal the sick. It was part of who He was, and I believe the Bible teaches that it should be part of who His followers are.
Unfortunately, I’m not wanting to heal the sick for the right reasons. I’m not looking for another way to express God’s love to humanity. More likely, I’m looking for proof of God’s existence, evidence that the Living God is actually living inside of me. I am that wicked and perverse generation seeking after a sign (Matthew 16:4), which doesn’t make me sound very godly at all.
It’s a shame that Jesus is not enough for me most of the time. Lord, forgive me for being so presumptuous. Forgive me for being such an ass.
I hope someone out there can relate. Then again, I hope that you can’t, because I’m a damn mess. If you can’t relate, good for you. Pray for me. Encourage me. But spare me your stones. I have my own.
(And if you’re curious, the guy in the picture is John Alexander Dowie, and he’s one of my most favorite characters in Christian history. He started strong, and ended up a huge train wreck. His is a cautionary tale. If you want to know more about him, I can talk for days. I’d also recommend the following collection of books that he wrote and were wrote about him. It’s under three bucks. You can swing it. Here’s the link for the Kindle edition.)