I firmly believe that one of the things that can hold us – the church – back from reaching our potential is a lack of honesty about how we feel about God. There is such a subtle and unspoken pressure to be alright with God, to be positive about God. And if we don’t feel like that, for fear of looking like we’ve got it wrong, we keep quiet.
Which is why the following conversation started by a new Christian friend on Facebook can teach us something so important.:
Why do I think this can teach us something? Because it’s so biblical. Biblical?! Yes, you know those awkward bits of the Psalms about killing enemies because they are evil, about dashing the heads of babies on rocks, about devouring enemies with dogs? This is that. This is brazen honesty before God, it’s taking the belly rage and whipping God with it. This is what we want to happen, in the moment, when we are angry.
What I am not saying is that the sentiment is right. And I don’t believe the David and the other biblical ragers did either. We can’t use it to justify doing bad stuff. But what is right is the honesty, something we shy away from in church so much. Which is weird, when the Bible is stacked full of people kicking the verbal hoojimey’s out of God and his failure to act, his failure to rescue, about how the evil prosper and the good die young; and about how he forgives our enemies, looks graciously upon those we hate, and shows mercy to those who plainly don’t deserve it.
There are people I know who are raging against God not healing them from terminal illness, from grief, from depression, from mental health problems, from addictions, from abuse. We must allow people to rage. IT’S BIBLICAL! What we don’t do is stay there, live there, become twisted and bitter and gnarled. It is our responsibility as church to be honest with each other, and then afterwards to help each other through it, to then have sensible discussions about grace and love and forgiveness and patience and justice and mercy.
And regarding the above conversation? There’s no simple answers, because we each have to find our own way to see God’s grace at work. In our society it’s ok to just be angry and vengeful; when we discover God’s grace we discover we can’t do that anymore. We can be horrified, disgusted, deeply moved and angry; but we can’t stay there.
Sometimes even that can make us angry. Grace is scandalously unjust.