All of us live in the dark. Fight and kick. Reach and grab. Thrash around. Run away. Hide. Cover up. Don’t let them know. Convince yourself. Deny and lie. Have faith. Don’t doubt. Pretend and presume. Don’t believe it they say.
I say I don’t believe it, and yet I act like I do. I don’t care what people think, yet I act like I do when I go to the party. I care about the poor and oppressed, and yet when I know there are neighbors lacking I instead fill my own belly. Many Christians say they believe in Hell as a place where God’s wrath is poured out on the unrighteous (or people who look different than they do) and yet they pass by people every day they assume will not make the cut.
Christians say they believe Jesus is the Son of God and where does that get them? Christians talk about their belief in the Bible as inerrant and perfect and incapable of being wrong. And where exactly does that help them land? Christians say they believe in the power of the Spirit, but do they really think they can become like Jesus. We Christians say we are forgiven and do we act like it? We talk about the beauty of God’s grace as the way into transformation, but do we believe it enough to trust Jesus with ourselves and others.
What effect are our beliefs having? Maybe you and I do not know what we really believe. Belief is readiness to act like the thing I believe is true. If I believe love is the only way to save the world do I in turn act like it’s true and love my neighbor? Or do I push and pull and grab and kick to get the good outcome I want for them? Love does not insist on its own way. Its patient and kind, not arrogant or rude. How often are we assuming we love someone when we really just love ourselves?
Perhaps if we relax a while and sit still for a moment we might realize the darkness of our lives has a lot to teach us. There is nothing to learn for those who deny their wounds. As much as we try we cannot live up to the ideal created by perfectionist thinking. Perfectionism is dangerous because it lives in denial, a denial of darkness and a denial of reality, which quickly turns to despair, pity, and self sabotage. Honesty and humility are the way into presence of God. God is there with you, just turn your head. There he is the light of the world, smiling, embracing, and lifting and accepting. If you say you believe Jesus loves us all, broken or not, do you really believe it?
Sometimes I have a hard time believing it. Maybe you do too.