CHRISTIAN BAIT-AND-SWITCH

Every Saturday, I take an early morning trip to Starbucks, and bring home a treat for my wife and I. I mostly do this for selfish reasons, but that’s another post altogether. This Saturday, I was listening to Christian radio, searching for some hope.

I had a nationally broadcast Christian radio station turned up loud because they were playing something by Switchfoot. After the song, and as an intro into the next song, the DJ said this, word for word.

“Everything just falls into place when God gets involved.”

And I understand the sentiment here. And in an eternal sense, it’s entirely accurate. But that’s not what she was saying. She was claiming that, in this world and during this lifetime, everything will just fall into place when God gets involved.

And I wanted to turn the car toward a pub instead, but it was way too early for any to be open.

Kidding.

I’m not being snarky or cynical or argumentative or anything. I promise. But apart from the fact that God is ALWAYS involved at some level in our lives, whether we admit it or not, everything in that statement feels like a Christianized bait-and-switch.

Press into the lives of the mature Christians around you. Read the Ancients. Discover St. John of the Cross. You won’t find any of them claiming that their lives just fell into place. And that’s because the intense and intimate and deep and soul-changing involvement of God most often requires a tearing apart, a crumbling of sorts. It’s a glass shattering, not a new glitzy sports car.

Are there glimmers of hope and sparkles of beauty? Of course there are. Do our hearts swell up with love and passion and joy? Absolutely.

But everyone reading this knows that those moments are temporary. They swell up, then go away. And that’s because of what Paul says.

Even after the cross of Jesus, and after the early church had experienced Pentecost and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we’re told that all creation still groans for redemption. Complete redemption, I assume. Paul proclaims (make sure and read and re-read these words, and don’t skip them like I do when I’m reading):

ROMANS 8:22-23

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (NIV)

Doesn’t sound like everything is just falling into place. It sounds like everything WILL fall into place, but that’s clearly on the other side.

And this is why I’m so inspired to write this post. It’s not because I disagree whole-heartily. I can find something to disagree with a lot – way too much, and that’s just my own filthy pride coming through, and masquerading as Scripture knowledge.

I’m writing this post because of the thousands of families who were in their cars, heading to the sports club all-weekend tournament, and who were also listening to the same radio station I was listening to. I’m writing to the broken and suffering people who are listening to any Christian radio station because they’re at the end of the end of themselves. And I’m writing to anyone who wouldn’t consider themselves a “Christian”, whatever that means to them.

Please consider the opposite of that statement. Logically, If everything is NOT falling into place in our lives, that must mean that God isn’t involved. I mean talk about shame and guilt and embarrassment, all of which leads to faking it and acting as if God is involved in our lives and that everything is just falling right into place.

There is shame and guilt and embarrassment, and that leads to faking it – to pretending we aren’t who we really are, and that our circumstances aren’t really as dire as we let on to the outside world. And inso doing, we become unaware liars.

And of course this DJ did not intend any harm. Quite the opposite. But I’m aware, perhaps now more than ever, of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of an unintentional Christian bait and switch.

How much better to simply say, “I know it may not seem like it for many of us, but God’s involvement in our lives never ceases. Whether He feels active and loud and boisterous, or perhaps He feels quiet, soft, even silent… He is involved, because His nature is involvement. And it’s personal, and it’s loving, and it’s for His glory.”

We are never given the privilege of offering any guarantee of results or outcomes, because WE don’t control those, and we don’t see the entire picture that God is painting. We just offer the heart of God, because that’s what Scripture gives us the ability to know and share and proclaim. And then we have the courage to let Him create the results that He knows are best and good and glorious in your life, my life, and everyone else’s life around you – even if those results aren’t what we envision or desire or even pray for.

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