By Jimmy McCarty
I’m noticing a trend in our cultural thinking, one that disturbs me. The more I converse with those of my generation (twenty-somethings) that truly have a desire to follow Christ, the more I find this trend plays out.What may make this trend so scary is that the hearts and intentions of these individuals are sincere! Our desire (notice I now include myself in this group, because I have unwittingly adopted this trend, to my chagrin) is the pursuit of the truth, the pursuit of righteousness, and a pursuit of the deeper things of God.
Here’s a scenario to put things in context:
Let’s say I’m overseas and I come across a blind man sitting on the street corner begging for money.I’m moved to compassion and take my companions over thinking maybe we can introduce this man to the hope of Christ (if he isn’t yet aware of this hope). We interact, we listen, and we resolve to pray healing for this man. Jesus did it all the time, right?So why shouldn’t we?
We begin to pray. We offer a litany of theologically correct prayers up to God being sure to include the formulaic “If it’s your will” disclaimer.We remind God of how much attention and glory He’d receive from moving in this way.We say “amen” and look…
“Well sometimes these things take time…”
“God’s still in control, maybe He has a greater plan…”
“Maybe we should pray something different…”
Hear me clearly on this: all good, plausible theological proofs.Here’s what disturbs me: the second we saw that blind man, these theological proofs flashed through our head.We actually engaged in this situation with a Plan B, an explanation for why God wasn’t going to move.
I’ve recently had a couple of conversations that have shown me how deep this disillusionment really goes.This is what I’ve heard:
“I pray but when God doesn’t answer I’m sure He’s just waiting on me to decide something…”
“I ask God to reveal Himself in a new way but He stays silent…He must be testing my faith…”
“I want God to move but [and here’s the holy grail]… it’s probably just not his will.”
Is this the God we serve?A God who stays distant from us on purpose?A God who doesn’t move, doesn’t speak, doesn’t respond to our cries for intimacy or move in compassionate, merciful ways?
We live a life full of the “exceptions”.We watch God fail to miraculous move and justify it.In fact, we end up living lives of these “special cases” when God doesn’t move immediately and thus we console our disappointment with faith in “God’s sovereignty” (ie. a greater plan we’ll never be privy to, because that’s God’s M.O.: to keep things as secretive and covert as possible and ultimately away from us).
I don’t want to disavow truth, but I want to expose the contentedness we have with powerless and intimacy-less lives.
Why is it okay to believe that God speaks but live a life without ever hearing His voice?
We say Jesus is our ultimate example but never once operate as He did…we never heal the sick, multiply food for the hungry or raise the dead.
But at the end of this discussion, it’s not about power, it’s about a relationship.What intimacy can we even conceive with someone who doesn’t speak and may not ever be around…it’s like having a pen pal that wrote you one letter a long time ago, but whom you consider your best friend of all time.
We believe God is present but often question if He’s spoken because His words sound an awful lot like common sense.
It will always be academia until we truly encounter God.God’s not hiding, we’re just content only looking in the places we’ve already looked.
Jimmy lives in Georgia and works for Adventures In Missions in the World Race program.