Shortcuts of Faith

There are no shortcuts in faith. You can’t get to resurrection without going through crucifixion. We have to go through the cross to get to new life. There’s no easy way, no way around it, no short cuts. And resurrection wasn’t to undo the crucifixion, it was to complete the process.

The scars Jesus got on the cross were still there after resurrection (John 20:27). They were badges of honor, not shameful at all.

We all have experiences in life that leave us scarred: death of a family member, illness, etc.

I don’t think God wants us to forget about them. I think the scars will always be there. They are a testament to the fact that God brought us through those times.

Not around them, or over them. Through them.

Peter Rollins talks at length in his book, Insurrection, about the Deus Ex Machina.  In ancient Greece, playwrights would sometimes find that they needed something to change in their script. Perhaps a character needed to die, or a character needed money that they couldn’t figure out how to obtain. So some playwrights would have an actor on ropes lower into the scene and simply make it occur. This character was God. Instead of having the skill to tell a logical, relate-able, moving story, they would simply use “God” to fix their problem. It was a sign of a poorly written play.

I think we tend to treat God this way, at least I know I do. I want out of my current job, so I beg God to just show up and change it. Rather than co-operating with the journey that will eventually lead me away from where I am, I demand an immediate change. (Having finished my degree and gotten some great opportunities to build my experience and resume in the area I want to work in, I can see the journey is happening. I just impatiently want it to happenfaster.)

I frequently view God as a way to get out of hard situations, but God wants to walk with me through them.  David didn’t say “Yea, though I can see the valley of death from where I’m at…”. He said “even as I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil because you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Sometimes life sucks. Those are the times when I learn how much God cares about me. When I am so needful and he stays with me. I demand and beg and plead for him to make the situation different, but he wants to be with me. To comfort me. To weep with me.  You can’t find a better friend than one who won’t abandon you when times get tough. Solomon said it this way: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

You find out who your friends are when it doesn’t benefit them to be around you. God gave us a family to stand with us when no one else would.

And God himself shows his greatness at times like this. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

He’s still in the business of loving us when we least deserve it. In being faithful when we are faithless. Because when the walk through the valley of the shadow of death is over, we’ll know that he really loves us. Not in some vague way, but in the way that he knows everything about us - especially how weak and selfish we are - and he still wants us to be his son or daughter. That his adoption is bourne of love, not obligation.

If we were to take shortcuts in faith, we would miss this lesson, which is the most important of them all.  We do not serve an unreliable genie, who occasionally grants wishes. We serve a loving God who draws closer to us when we need him most.