The Upside of a Bad Relationship with God
I have been thinking about what it means to have a relationship with God. The whole concept is daunting really…
First of all, to be in relationship means you know something of another. You may not know everything and some of what you think you know may well be wrong but you know something of each other.
Secondly it does not necessarily imply that the relationship is good. We all have relationships that are a bit rocky or have traversed some rough patches of highway. Even the best of relationships get cross threaded now and then. Some people are cross threaded with God. Good relationship? No. Relationship? Yes.
Since the Bible teaches that relationship comes at the initiative of God, anyone who is struggling with God is doing so because God is reaching out to them. People with no relationship with God don’t struggle with God at all. In fact they seldom think of God and if they do it is dispassionately; like a discussion about a baseball game that really doesn’t interest you or the weather in the fall. If you are thinking about God, be assured God is thinking about you.
Sometimes we get concerned because we or people we know are struggling with their faith. They don’t have it all figured out and we wish they did. They are angry with God and we wish they weren’t. I would remind you that the very act of struggle is clear evidence of relationship. No one struggles with strangers or those they care nothing about.
If you are struggling with God, take heart. Keep knocking, yelling, asking, weeping and seeking. God can handle your pain, your questions, your issues, your doubt and even your bad theology.
It is only when the gloves come off, the gauntlet is thrown and raw honesty sets in that we can face our issues.
Stay in the struggle. Keep attending church when you don’t feel like going. Keep worshiping when you don’t feel like singing, keep believing when you don’t understand and stay at the table when what you want to do is run away.
And one day you will find, much to your surprise, you have made it through the storm and that you were loved every step of the way…
The upside of a bad relationship? It is still a relationship.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997