I woke up feeling sick, and decided to read something. But I wanted something that resonates with my pain, not an encouragement or you’ll be okay soon kind of thing. And I searched through my mind for a book to read, a christian book to be precise and only 1 book came to mind. Why 1? Coz we Christians live in a perpetual bubble of happiness. We like things being okay, and when they are not we pray and fast that they will be. We encourage each other to hold on because tomorrow will be better.
Well, I’ve looked at my Bible, looked at my life and realised the idea of us living and looking forward to that happy moment only is first of all unbibilical and secondly, unrealistic.
Biblically speaking, my cousin was telling me about how Christians are not supposed to be poor. That our God is rich and promises us prosperity and all. She had verses and scriptures to back that up. And a lot of things they had been preached about concerning how for as long as they have God, poverty is not their problem.
Now, I’m not against wealth. By all means go after your Ferrari. My only problem is, reading the new testament feels like i’m being prepared for war. Literally. My favorite chapter James 1 starts with the guy telling us to count it all joy when we encounter trials of every kind. Our favourite verse, ” I can do all things through Christ…..” is Paul telling us that he has learnt to survive in want and when he had it all. Go to Jesus in Luke as he gives us funny instructions, like giving your shirt to whoever takes your coat, not asking for your goods back from him who takes them away from you, and turning your other cheek to be slapped when one slaps the other.
Now, maybe you don’t have my cousins view that all Christians are supposed to be rich, but you can’t deny that by virtue of knowing God and having a relationship with God, we expect our lives to kinda be better. After all, all things will work out for our good, right? And if God is on our side who can be against us? And blessed are we who fear the Lord.
Going back to my first question, do you take the bible literally? Like do you picture the son of Jacob sleeping with his father’s concubine? And that guy being the 12 tribes of Israel that we can recite name by name? Do you realise that Abraham, the father of faith was promised a son by God, and went ahead to try and help God by getting Ishmael? Do we ever consider that when Israelites went to war, defeating armies in the name of the Lord, they were murdering thousands of men?
Has it ever occurred to you that the famous Jericho story, includes a whole city like Nairobi collapsing on its citizens? Do we when we read Noah’s story, see God for who He is? Love and Just at the exact same time? He kills everyone in the world while ensuring that humans don’t perish at the exact same time.
I have come to associate Kenyans with selective understanding. They will choose which side of a coin to support while ignoring the other side of the same coin. But this isn’t about our ignorant political choices, its about our selective acceptance of God.
God is Ferocious. God is love. And God isn’t nice. Neither is His job description in your life to make your life nice. But we can’t understand that, unless we take the bible literally. Not as fairy tales told us that end with ” and the moral of the story is”.
There is no moral of the story, you are the story. But I think we get scared of looking at the ” bad” parts of the bible. We deem them controversial. We don’t debate on them. We don’t preach on them. We choose which sides of this God to understand, is it a little wonder then, when in our lives instead of accepting poverty, pain, challenges, trials, hardships, pain, betrayal, hurt etc we do everything to get away from them, and in the process waste away a larger part of our lives wishing it away, praying it away, encouraging it away, just doing everything in our powers possible to not live in that moment?
After all, you can’t live in the moment of a hard time when you serve a God who according to you is a God of good tidings. A God of prosperity, of blessings, of working out all things to your favour, of making you do all things through His son who strengthens you. Its impossible. No wonder we find people who ‘ sin’ beyond what we think God allows, getting out of touch with this God of ours. People who go through intense pain, and can’t just relate to this Happy God of ours.
I’m not saying all those verses about prosperity, blessings and good tidings aren’t true, I am saying( I wish I could shout this), that even those verses about destruction, hardships, lack, pain, betrayal are also true. And if you look into your life, you’ll see that you experience both sides. Is it a wonder then that the bible has a verse saying it is an active living word? Even the word itself knows that it has everything concerning your life( not just encouraging you towards victory but even on how to live in pain) and it has all you need to know concerning God( not just His love, even His anger- which is real by the way).
Let us not choose which side of God to know. Ask questions. Why did He let the Israelites be oppressed over and over again? Yet He loved them. Yet they sinned and yet his steadfast love that forgives sin was still there even then. This leads to you..would God allow you to suffer? Or be oppressed? Will it make Him less love? Or will He just be in His elemental character as shown in the bible?
Don’t be afraid that you won’t still worship Him when you start going down that path. Can the God who created the universe not be able to handle His son who has questions he wants to understand about his father? God doesn’t suffer from a poor self esteem. If He did its either we would not be alive or He would make us worship Him by force.
I was reading a book called The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink. And one of the points the author raised was that in the beginning God was alone. No heaven, no earth no angels no humans. No one to worship Him. And He was self sufficient. Alone yet okay in Himself. And even after creating us, we didn’t add or remove anything from Him. He was God( when we weren’t there) , He is God( when we are here and confusing His being love and good to being Nice), and He will be God( when we are not there). You remember that question about a chicken on a plane, that hatches an egg, is the plane now heavier? Clearly no weight is added since the egg was in the chicken all along. Same concept.
The reason we think the way we do, and are preached to the way we are, is because we assume that ,because, God loved us so much that He gave His only son to die for us so that we who believe in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life, then surely we must be the centerpiece of this story. Which is lie. At least the Bible sends us a different story. Its like assuming that the things God did the Israelites, he did it for them. Yet this God tells it clearly, its all for Him. Your life is for Him. Your existence is to bring glory to Him not for Him to ensure all things work out well in your life. If they do work out, that’s well and fine, if they don’t but have brought glory to God, you fulfilled your purpose on earth all the same.
We are not the star of this story. God is. And unless we understand who God is, then our role in this story will forever be confusing to us. And understanding God, as much as our minds can allow us to get this incomprehensible God, will include taking our bibles and reading both the good and ‘bad’ or ‘controversial’ according to us and asking the Holy Spirit to help us in our search.
Do you take the bible literally? Or do we shout amen when it suits us and silently pass over books like Habakkuk where a prophet goes to seek for help for the Israelites and instead God promises intense war on the Israelites?
In case you are wondering the 1 book I have found is called Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel. I’m reading it for a second time and I have the soft copy and willing to share in case you are not afraid of delving into this world of God not being nice.