It’s supposed to be encouraging when we hear that God the Father sees His children through the filter of His Son Jesus Christ. I’ve seen Christians almost come to tears when they talk about how God the Father is wearing “blood-colored glasses” to look at us, seeing the righteousness of His Son instead of our sinfulness.
Religious Pharisees will tell believing children of God,
“No matter what you’re suffering, your greatest problem is your own sin.”
The ones I have known meant it this way:
Oh? You just heard that your child, or spouse, or parent is dead? Well, that’s very sad, but your greater problem is your own personal sin. Oh? Your husband is abusing you and your children? Well, that’s pretty bad—if it’s true—but your greater problem is your own personal sin.
Recently I received a note from a friend, Rochelle Sadie (whose blog about recovering from domestic abuse is here).
The verse that the enemy likes to use against me to guilt trip me is Luke 6:32 when Jesus said “anyone can love someone who is nice to them, but it’s better to love your enemy.” Basically I feel so much condemnation, like I’m taking the easy way out by avoiding my abuser, and God is disappointed in me that I would not seek to “love my enemies” or just try to work around their “shortcomings.”
I wonder – if you might help me understand Jesus’ true intentions with this statement. What is the heart of God regarding our attitude toward our abusers and sometimes toward those who pressure us to return to an abuser and/or a chronically unfaithful man?
Last week I received a letter from my friend Ana. The first part of her first question read:
In the Reformed/Gospel-centered movement, the focus seems to be on how sinful and wicked and powerless we all are and how comforted and relieved we should be when we look to the cross. It seems like the answer to most problems is to look to the cross more. I don’t even know exactly what that means. For me, it encouraged a miserable cycle of wallowing in how awful I am and basing the Christian life on the feelings I get when I think of Jesus dying for me.
I’ve spoken in a number of Christian school chapels over the years. As a professional storyteller I’d speak in chapel with a true story from one of my missionary books, and then as the “visiting author” I’d go around to the classrooms and answer questions.
One of the questions I’d often get was this: “If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”
(A student would ask it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a teacher who came up with the question.)
I love it when friends of mine find their voices and speak. I love providing them with a safe space to speak about what God has done in their lives. This one is from my friend Ruth.
I’ve not ever been in what is considered formal therapy. Sadly the “biblical counsel” my church leaders and Bible college leaders gave me as a teen almost killed me.
“Never question authority”
I was raised in an environment where authority was absolute.Obedience without question was expected to be given to any “authority” in my life. I learned that they were chosen and ordained by God to communicate God’s plan and design for my life. If any authority figure pointed out anything other than unquestioned obedience on my part, I would be punished.
When the Bible talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing, is that referring to a common occurrence? That in our everyday churches, there would be people there who may be well respected but are there to deceive and destroy?
A while back when I (Rebecca) was talking with some former ATI members (Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute), I thought about the devastation, confusion, and even anti-Christianity that has resulted from this homeschooling program. I said aloud to myself, “Bill Gothard certainly has left a tremendous amount of destruction in his wake.”
Then I added under my breath, “Many were defiled.”
I saw that he was the very root of bitterness in Hebrews 12:15 that he himself loved to talk about.
In prayer ministry work with abuse survivors, it’s common to ask Jesus to show up in the memory of the abuse. This is an effective way for Him to speak His love and care to the heart of the one who was harmed and bring healing to the wounds caused by others.
But sometimes a theology question can stop the work before it happens. “God can’t be in the presence of sin,” more than one friend has said to me, “so there’s no way Jesus could be there where that awful stuff is happening.”Continue reading “Can God be in the presence of sin?”