Friday, 4 November 2011

'Crap' and the will of God

If we pray the Lord's Prayer every day - and we should as a minimum (why? Because Jesus said "when you pray say: Our Father... and Christians do pray don't they?) - then we must trust that all that happens subsequently is something to do with that will. Even the bad stuff. Not that the bad stuff  is good but that God uses it in some mysterious way to work out His will for us and HIs world. For example when we see poverty in our family or neighbourhood, poverty is not good but how we respond can certainly be good and help us become more like Him. The choices we face can be tough ones but again send us to God and His will which helps steer us along the path He wants us to tread. Not that God causes bad stuff to happen but that it happens anyway, as a result of our free will, and He then uses it for good.

Years ago manufacturers used to throw away the husks of wheat and the fibre because people only wanted refined bread to eat. In time however it was seen that actually all this was good for you. Fibre in the diet helped keep your body healthy and remove impurities from the bowels etc. God uses the 'husks' in our lives - the bad stuff - for good.  That's of course if you believe that God is good and that His will is the best for you.

Crap happens to everyone. It's a consequence of the freedoms we enjoy. The difference with a Christian is that we don't tackle it alone, that somehow we believe there is an ultimate purpose to it - life leads somewhere - and that it somehow holds within it some sort of redemptive purpose. Crap is some kind of perfecting tool which God uses expertly and will, if approached with Him by our side, result in good for us and for society. That's why we have in James those rather odd sounding words: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds.." (James 1:2) Not because James is some kind of sado-masachist, but because, as a realist living in a tough and uncompromising world, where life expectancy was around the 30's, disease and famine and violent death were everyday realities and poverty was widespread, who saw that in Jesus there was the hope that, with God's help, it could yet have a good and positive outcome and effect on us. Not that he or anyone in their right mind would seek out "trials of many kinds" but because they come along eventually anyway. So with God's help James sees that "the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:3-4)  To 'see' this, he says, we need two things:

1. First wisdom "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)  In other words God will show us how we can see how this works for us; and,
2. faith. We must trust God. "But when he/she asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." (James 1:6). Over and over God is described by Jesus as "Our Father" (there's that prayer again). We need the faith to see Him as such and not doubt that His purposes are, ultimately, good.


Outside of God it can of course lead in a wholly other and more negative and destructive direction. Crap is seen as just that - crap - and we get bitter and resentful, especially of others who don't have it as tough as us (although we don't see into their lives so we don't really know for sure). This is where I must admit that I admire the atheists in some ways because they take on life and all it throws at them on their own. They are the masters of their own destiny. That's crazy courage but it leads nowhere, although the 'noble atheist' may yet be saved according to some early Christians.

No I am a child in an adult world - we all are. Just because we get older and have lived a bit, learned a bit and experienced a bit, does not make us any less children or more grown up. There is only one grown up - God - and we need His guidance and input to get through life in one piece - more than that - to get INTO life, the life "in all it's fulness" (John 10:10) He has purposed and called us to.

This means dealing with the crap and seeing in it one of God's principle ways of working His will out. God give us the wisdom and faith to see it.

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