When I was a young graduate assistant working at Bob Jones University (learning publishing at BJU Press), like all the other employees I was given certain odious assignments to fulfill each semester, such as monitoring the “dating parlor” for a couple of hours on a Sunday.
One Sunday after I had finished that odious assignment, my replacement came along, a BJU lifer, Miss Potts. She asked me if I was going to obediently head on over to Vespers (the University’s drama program presented on Sunday afternoons).
“No,” I responded somewhat defiantly. “I’m going to church.”
Miss Potts was an old Southern lady with an absolutely perfect Southern drawl.
If you’ve blogged for over ten years as I have, you probably have scores of jotted ideas, half-baked posts, drafts, and . . . what do you know it, full posts that somehow never got posted.
Today, when I had a few moments but wanted to avoid listening to the news that literally put me to bed yesterday on Pentecost Sunday, I began scrolling through my files and files of blog ideas.
And then, there before me was a complete post about Bill Gothard’s umbrella heresy that I never had posted. And since Gothard—a man that I, along with many thousands of others, used to adore—has been in the news again recently, and since his teaching promotes complete compliance to abusive authorities (talk about being pertinent to the news!) I’m posting it now.
Recently I received a question from my friend Ana Harris. She said,
When people’s prayers for God to be glorified in my suffering are disconnected from his goodness and love, they start to sound rather cruel, almost like God is using me and taking pleasure in my pain. Does God cause my pain and suffering for his own glory? Why would he need our suffering to get glory for himself? Doesn’t he already possess glory because of who he is?
What is your answer to this? How do we truly glorify God? What is glory anyway?
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.
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?”