Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Why I Need God
So, the question is, why hasn't the revolution come? Jesus came 2000 years ago and the world is in worse shape now than it was then, mainly because of people's increased power. Why is it that Christians are the butt of television jokes, rather than respected? Where's Martin Luther when you need him?
The church got suborned somehow. In Spain around 1500 the church was for sale. You could buy your way into the papacy, or you could buy the pope's comments on something. The rulers of Spain bought the pope's acquiescence to their forays into the Caribbean, and subsequently to approval of slavery. Some churchmen tried to convince the others that the natives were people, but they were shouted down by the others, who wanted gold and influence.
The church continues to be suborned. When was the last time you were in a casual gathering of Christians, and heard them talking about Christ?
If you read enough history you see a lot of similarities from one period to the next. It's like mathematical fractals: the design repeats at any level of detail. People are corrupt. Revolutions fail because the participants can't agree on where they're going, or they get bought off. So we try the stock phrases to gloss over the problems... and we all get along, more or less.
Jesus gave us what we need for a real revolution. You can't legislate it, or dictate it. Look at Russian history to illustrate that. You can't get people to do good by rewarding them. In short, anything applied from the outside fails.
God has the answer. He lives in us and changes our hearts. If we let him.
This brings me face-to-face with a big problem: I need God in order to live the life I want. I need him, like I need to breathe, or drink water, or eat. Oh, I can live without Him, but the life won't be very good. It'll be that same kind of automatic, rote-based junk that is so stinking familiar.
But I've trained myself not to need anything. Be prepared to abandon anything that causes a problem, be it a non-functional car, old clothes, awkward people or anything else. Walk away from the trap. Never need anything because whatever I need puts a handle on me. A chain. Make sure that, while you can take away anything I own, you never get ahold of a piece of my soul. This is why I do sand sculpture: no one will ever possess it, or the part of me that the sculpture represents.
Now I have a relationship I can't abandon. If I abandon God, if I turn away from Him, I die. I'll keep walking around, but my heart will be unsupported and, like a tree pulled out of the ground, it will wither. I now know where life comes from. God owns my heart.
This drives me nuts! I'm not supposed to need anything! How did this happen? Why didn't someone tell me this would happen so that I could have bailed before I got in so deep? Nobody made me walk this path. No one grabbed me and forced me to take the exit. I just keep being surprised by God's reality.
I think this is the Holy Spirit's role in the revolution. He keeps making God real to me and that reality makes changes. They just happen. And I no longer can live without His presence. Can you imagine how this scares me? What if He pulls out? Yeah, I know, He promises not to leave, but what about all the people who say God left them? Besides that, our world has a very poor record on promises. Made in the moment, forgotten in the next.
Everyone talks of needing God. It seems to me that most of the time they're talking in a warm, fuzzy "His Eye is on the Sparrow" kind of way. Distant. Makes you feel good.
I'm trying to describe something more than that. Yes, God does have His eye on the sparrow, but He has more than that on me. He wants me to live. God is a person, and He is personally interested in what I'm doing. Last night I was thinking, trying to sort some of this out, and wondering why I need God. Why bother? Why does He need me? Then He said to me "I want you to live because I cherish every day with you."
I didn't believe it. Self-hypnosis, self-delusion, what I want to hear. And then the Holy Spirit gave me an image of the cross. Jesus died so that God could cherish me. Jesus died so that the Holy Spirit could live in me... and transform me into a needy person. I rationalize this by thinking that it's the way humans were designed to be; God always intended to be in our lives, but sin has sunk that idea so He had to do it the hard way. That He did so, to the point of giving His Son, is proof that He does truly cherish His moments with us. I need someone to cherish me, to want me around.
There. I've said it. Shameful, but as close to reality as I can come. It's true for me, and it's a revolution. I don't know where it leads but I know where the road behind me goes. I don't want that. Needing God is better than dying alone. God has promised that His revolution will live in me, and it's nothing like the platitudes and rote learning most churches pass off as Christianity. You can't buy the Holy Spirit. He is entirely free, and to touch Him is to be changed.