MISS MOOX + time

Give God a chance?

There is a sign posted on the noticeboard of a large church by the side of the highway down which I drive every day. It appeared a couple of weeks ago and has been bugging the hell out of me ever since, enough so that it has finally merited its own blog post.

The sign reads:

Tired of the ups and downs of life?
Give God a chance!
I'd like to modify it to read:

Tired of the ups and downs of life?
Give God a chance—and get even more!
Just kidding. Well, mostly.

What's so wrong about that sign?

It has the potential to be radically misleading, and in fact, is, on face-value reading.

The meaning that most casual readers would get out of that sign is this:

Tired of the ups and downs of life? Give God a chance! Things will become happy, easy, peaceful and meaningful! No longer will you have to struggle with the day-to-day frustrations, heartaches, and sorrows of a life without God. Now your path will be rosy and smooth. Especially if you come to our church. You'll walk through life singing, pitying those poor fools who won't give God a chance.
What's the problem with this?

Well, it's wrong.

If it is implying that by giving God a chance, your life will somehow become trouble-free, it's radically wrong. There is a heck of a lot in the Bible about trouble and suffering. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Speaking personally, I can testify that "giving God a chance" hasn't spared me from any amount of pain or difficulty; far from it. I've probably had more share of it than the average person.

If what the sign means to imply, however, is that God can and does give you peace and joy in the middle of trouble, strength to overcome it, and the assurance of his presence always, it's true. Jesus also said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) He's talking about an internal rest, a deep peace of heart and spirit, that you can't get anywhere else but from him.

I have known that, too. In the middle of some of the greatest pain of my life, I've known that. I've known the truth of another of these words of Jesus:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

That's the truth. And that's what our churches need to communicate to people. If they communicate that having God in your life somehow means that things will become easy or pain-free, it's no wonder that non-Christians think that we're cracked. Better tell the real truth: that God doesn't guarantee a shortcut to no worries in this life—that comes later—but what he does give is far better. That's what I'd like that sign to say.

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