Here is my response to a recent Trust30 prompt. I’m a little nervous about posting it here, but I think that’s also part of the exercise. If you don’t agree with what I’ve written, let’s talk about it in the comments.
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
I believe Christians talk about God too much.
One of my biggest struggles as a pastor has been that I’ve never been comfortable talking about God in the way that many of my Christian friends like to talk about him.
They’re always attributing various acts, motives, and outcomes to God.
God did this . . .
God said that. . .
God told me to. . .
The reason this bothers me so much is that I have no clue how they KNOW it was God who did or said what they’re giving him credit for saying or doing. I believe that God is constantly at work in and around us. I also believe that much of God’s work is far too mysterious and complex to describe in the casual tones of football commentators on a Sunday afternoon. God’s activity is best seen after the season is over, not in the middle of the game.
I remember one instance where someone in our church had a loved one in the hospital. The prognosis was dire. Death was imminent. Then one day, against all odds, she got better. He told everyone in sight that God had performed a miracle. She died the next day. Every skeptic who was paying attention couldn’t help but wonder why God’s miracle only lasted for 24 hours.
Sometimes we want to be able to tell our very own miracle story so badly that we jump the gun and end up making God look bad.
It also bothers when people of faith recruit God into whatever they’ve decided to do. God almost always wants them to take the higher paying job or marry the younger woman. I think we should pray before we make decisions and ask God for guidance, but when it comes time to announce our intentions, there’s no reason to give God the credit for what could be the biggest mistake of our lives.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Esther. One detail that separates it from all the other books in the Bible is that God is never mentioned in the story. Mordecai never appeals to God when trying to persuade Esther to take her stand. Esther doesn’t trot out the name of God when confronting the King. While God is obviously at work in the events of the story, the storyteller lets us connect the dots for ourselves.
I find such understatement in matters of faith to be more persuasive than those in which people can’t tell a story, explain a decision, or take a position without playing the God card in an attempt to enhance their credibility or relieve them of responsibility.
I believe we honor God’s holiness by talking about him less, not more.
What do you think?