The culture of Christianity can, oftentimes, be a very strange place to dwell. Christians, myself included (especially me, in fact), can be some really weird birds. We do silly things such as calling an eating establishment Christian. Is that because the coffee has recited the sinner's prayer, or because the pancakes have been properly baptized in holy syrup? I'm not sure. We will also rally to support a "Christian" movie even if the acting is hideous and the dialog is filled with silly cliches, regardless of whether or not the themes are all that Biblical. Then we buy Christian bracelets that say WWJD and do the exact opposite of what Jesus would have done, while pridefully sporting said bracelet like that amulet Peter Brady wore on the Hawaiian vacation episode. I can hear that eery amulet music playing in the background right now.
We have a lot of bizarre sayings, too. Things like "God is good... all the time." Because that is supposed to help people feel better when they are going through a divorce or their child is dying of cancer. If the pastor calls the first part out and then the congregation answers the call, I think it is supposed to be even more powerful. It makes the ground shake a little bit. It's a true statement, I admit, but it doesn't feel at all compassionate when you are going through something terribly hard. It makes me want to kick people in shins, which is not compassionate either. So I try to plug my ears if I think that phrase might be coming.
Then, there's the way we say "just" a million times when we are praying. "Lord, would you just be with us right now? Would you just come and bring healing? Would you just comfort our pain? Would you just help us?" Do we think that God is capable of "just" doing only so many things, or are we trying not to sound too needy or greedy? Or do we "just" want a little bit of His power to come into our lives? Like we "just" couldn't handle too much.
It's like we all get wrapped up in a peculiar religious fog, speaking our own special lingo that's not all that helpful, or dare I say, maybe not even Biblical.
I have a confession to make. Other than the fact that I've done and said many of the things listed above, I have done something else in the past few years that has really come to grieve me. I have come to think of my God as a "user god." You know how we Christians say things like...
"Wow, that is awesome! God really used you."
"He is really going to use this situation in your life. Just wait and see."
"God is going to use you to speak to that person."
"Don't worry. God is going to use that horrible thing that happened to you for His good."
Little by little, some false assumptions crept into my ears, and likewise, out of my mouth. Then the lies began entwining themselves around my heart. I began to think that I was just someone to be used by a non-personal, supreme being and then cast aside when he didn't need me or want me anymore.
Like a Kleenex you use briefly and throw away.
Like a tool you take out to accomplish a task and then shove back into a dark, cold drawer for the next time it's needed.
Like a train you ride to a destination and then leave behind.
Like like a marionette puppet you use to tell a story and then hang back up on a rusty nail on the wall.
Like a "friend" who uses you as a stepping stone to get something otherwise beyond their grasp.
Or a "lover" who uses your body for their own pleasure, but deserts you before dawn.
But... I don't want to be used.
I want to be loved.
I don't want to be a footnote.
I want to be part of a grand story...
about a good God.
My false assumptions are slowly being erased and replaced by His truths and promises.
My God is not a user god.
He does not use me and cast me aside.
He wants me to be molded in His capable, creative hands, a useful vessel in His story.
Not a used one.
He loves me
He redeems me
He purifies me
~1 John 3:2-3~
He calls me
~2 Peter 1:3-4~
~2 Peter 1:3-4~
He anoints me
He prepares me for good
He disciplines me
He restores me
He refines me
He blesses me
He gives me good gifts
He sings over me
He shepherds me
He fathers me
He cherishes me
He gathers me to His side. A bride and heir to His Kingdom.
He is the one I am falling in love with again.
He is not a user god.
His name is Jesus.