I recently found myself unexpectedly challenged by something I’ve read. It’s from a book by Peter Rollins called How (Not) To Speak of God.
First, this (he’s talking here about traditional forms of apologetics and why the emergent church doesn’t embrace them):
“…if someone is convinced that there is a place where they will be tormented after death, and that the only way to avoid this torment is by affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord, then they will no doubt make that affirmation, regardless of whether they are genuinely moved by Christ or not. This type of discourse endeavors to compel individuals to bow the knee regardless of their motives or the nature of their desire. Like a lover of nuts who is offered thousands of shells with no center, so we offer God thousands of ‘converts’ with no heart.” (p.35-6)
and then this (here he’s moved on to the apologetic of the emergent church, which, if I’m understanding him correctly, is simply to encourage individual people to ask the right questions):
“In short, a true spiritual seeking can be understood as the ultimate sign that one already has that which one seeks, or rather, that one is already grasped by that which one seeks to to grasp. Consequently, a genuine seeking after God is evidence of having found. Of course, much desire that appears to seek after God is nothing of the sort. For instance, to seek God for eternal life is to seek eternal life, while to seek God for a meaningful existence is to seek a meaningful existence. A true seeking after God results from an experience of God which one falls in love with for no reason other than finding God irresistably loveable. In this way the lovers of God are the ones who are most passionately in search of God.” (p. 50)
As I read that, I was convicted all over again that there are times when I seek God not for who He is but for the benefits I reap by knowing Him – and such “love” isn’t really love at all, but is rather completely self-centered. If I gained nothing by loving God, would I still love Him? If I lived in a third-world country, suffered from hereditary AIDS, and had nothing but watery rice gruel to eat and not even enough of that, would I still be compelled to seek Him, and would I still love Him if He never gave me more in life than that? And are these valid questions, or does God expect us to seek Him for what He gives us in addition to who He is? It’s been pounded into our heads by Christian culture: “Jesus is the Answer.” He is the Answer to everything that’s messed up in this world, including us – but people who love Him die from all sorts of diseases … and yet (Ps. 103:3) He heals all our diseases…
I don’t know that I have any conclusions at the moment, or that I ever will – but I find myself sitting squarely in the midst of this strange juxtaposition, being okay with the fact that I don’t get it, and longing to really love God…which I hope qualifies as true seeking, tho I find myself in Peter’s other two camps quite a bit, too.
Thoughts, anyone? I’d love to hear them.
Simple Felicity is, at its heart, a blog based on the unshakeable belief that happiness really isn't all that complicated. Sometimes finding it can be - but happiness itself is pretty simple, and it's often found in the simplest of things: good food, good books, and good company. So those are the things I write about, along with a few other things that really matter to me, including faith and feminism.
A bit about me: My name is Happy. I have an amazing talent for misplacing my keys, a deep appreciation for whomever looked at the coffee bean and thought, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roasted this?", and road trips to Michigan are pretty much my favorite.
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