Empulse #12 A Christian Message for a postChristian Heart

kermit_the_frogSarah had come to faith in Christ during  college. After two years in the campus group she showed up in our home out of frustration. She was visibly distraught. Her Christian staff worker had told her she “just needed to trust Jesus.” “That,” she said, “just was too simplistic.” She was aggravated, angry, and very near the detonation point. As we sat that evening in front of our wood stove she collected herself to tell my wife and me a story we could hardly believe.

            Sarah[i] had grown up in a proper family in a rural area in New York; mother, father, two sisters and one brother, older. On the surface everything appeared to be status quo. But just below the surface lay insidious evil. Sarah’s older brother had been raping her every day of her life since she was eleven years old. One of her sisters found her in tears one day after one of her brother’s assaults. In the process of trying to shield her brother, Sarah’s sister Jennifer[ii] guessed what had been going on and told Sarah that she, too, was also being raped by their brother every day. When they confronted their brother he threatened to commit suicide. Sarah and Jennifer told Bob[iii] that he had to tell their parents within the week or they were going to the police.

            The two sisters were resolute in their determination and insisted that Bob follow through and tell their parents what he had done to them. Instead, to their shock, Bob committed suicide. He left a suicide note for his parents blaming Sarah for everything (leaving out any mention of Jennifer).  Sarah began to sob, scream, curse, and go completely out of control as she told us that her parents believed what her brother had written in his farewell letter. They told her that she would just have to admit her complicity in the ongoing, five year “affair” she had had with her older brother. After Bob’s funeral, Sarah’s and Jennifer’s older sister told them that she too had been raped by him, repeatedly; but they did not want to speak about it, ever again.

            It was now close to midnight. Starr and I were having trouble staying awake. As I put another log in the wood stove, Sarah cried, “How can I ever ‘just trust in Jesus!?!’ He suffered and died for my sins once and for all…, and it was done with. I died every day of my life for seven years. He has no idea what I went through.”

            Sarah’s story is not the only one of its kind. In my role as a counselor I have heard similar stories more times than I would have imagined.  There is truly a lot of pain out there. Not that the pain in our era is any greater or more severe than at any time. Each epoch inflicts its own form of tribulation and torture on its populace. Wars, genocides, rapes, wholesale slaughter of entire peoples and other gruesome agonies have found their way into our history books.  They remain glibly reported events of a distant past. But for those who lived through them, who suffered through assault, or war, or witnessed genocide, the actuality was excruciatingly devastating and left lifelong scars. Life was lost to an evil enemy from whom there was no escape; there seemed no end to suffering. But people always held out hope— hope of rescue, hope of survival, hope in their God. Hope that, in the end, things could be worked out.

Until now.

As we have shifted into this postChristian era any spiritual basis for hope has been totally obliterated.  It has been supplanted by forms of pragmatism, hedonism, self-absorbed isolationism, or a simple denial of the harshness of personal and global tragedy.  People are also disappointed in a god who is not there. Hope has become a contrived notion of a cynical society, held out like a carrot on a stick. Hope in a god, any god, is perceived as a naïve pretense couched in the spiritual jargon of religion.  Empty words.

So how can the message of hope that is offered by Jesus Christ be heard, understood, and believed in such a truth-weary & broken culture?

This is the question that we will now seek to answer. And the answer will cross many lines of safety, many given definers of the gospel and how to present the truth claims of the faith.

            On a personal note, this part of the series is not easy for me to write. I know Sarah, and others like her, who have sought hope in the Christian gospel and Christian community, and found only glib patronages.

Offering hope, in a deforested war zone.

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

www.CluelessChristianity.com  

NEXT TIME~ A Christian Message for a postChristian Heart: part 2

[i] Not her real name.

[ii] Not her real name either.

[iii] Not his real name.

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the wolf that is clawing at your door

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Wolf, wolves, fear, door, Sometimes…, when we are alone at night, we can hear things— creaking floors, expanding pipes, hissing radiators, or dripping facets, that oft become more than they actually are. Our senses play tricks on us. We imagine someone trying to break in, someone coming up the stairs, or something in the room. Our fear crescendos until we reach to turn on the light. We breathe a sigh of relief; nothing there:  but what about outside the door? We pull the covers up.

Nonetheless, could it be that something is genuinely there? Not in the creaks and cracks of the walls that surround us, but just outside the doors of our minds, of our souls. We cannot see it. We sense it. We feel it. We know something is “out there,” that wants us. We’re just not sure what.

Its clawing is relentless, constant. We can never quite evade the feeling that we are under surveillance, under assault.

As we move through our days, going about our business, getting things done, the scratching feels more subdued, less present, less a threat. It is when we are once again alone with ourselves that it returns— the wolf that is clawing at your door.

At times we toy with the clawing, imagining it to be an offer to open the door; an invitation to come and play with the beast, to see how close we can come to his claws, how close we can come to his jaws. We make a game of it, scratching back from the safety of our side of the door, 2½” away from certain flesh-shredding destruction. We find it exciting to play with evil so close to its fangs.

It is one thing to fall into danger, into the clutches of the wolf. It is quite another to play with it, as if it were a cuddly little puppy. He is not. For given the opportunity, the wolf would devour you and everything you hold dear. Yes, his games are exciting, tempting you to play outside in the dark; but in the end he would consume your flesh and crush your heart and soul in his jaws.

Life is full of vibrancy and celebration! Joy! But life is no game; though to avoid its uncertainties and difficulties we often pretend that it is. Wisdom dictates that we bear responsibility for our lives, our actions, and those within our safe-keeping. To do any less is to crack the door open for the wolf.  He would love to get his claws into you. Be on your guard. Always.

With caution,

Gary