Losing Jesus in the sea of cliches

For all my moaning and groaning about how I just don’t “get” evangelical culture, I seem to have lost sight of Jesus. It’s an easy thing to do, when many who represent him attribute quotes to him and his dad that neither of them actually said, and that gets rather frustrating.

“Everything happens for a reason” is found nowhere in the Bible, but for how many Christians say it, you’d assume it was the eleventh commandment to believe it. This is a hard one for me, because it’s comforted me many times during unexplainable hardships. It’s especially hard when I realize that if I hadn’t joined my college ministry, an organization that caused me more spiritual harm than good, I never would have met my husband. In fact, if I hadn’t joined a dance class in middle school, where I met my future maid of honor, who later recommended I get “plugged in” to a ministry to help me grow, I never would have met my husband. Was I meant to join a very specific dance class to be lead to Cru to find a husband? Who knows.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The sentiment is a nice one: love people without always agreeing or supporting what they do. It sounds wonderful in theory but often fails in practice when hating the sin feels an awful lot like hating the sinner. Truthfully, I have no time or energy to hate other people’s sins. There’s no one’s sin that I despise more than my own.

“God protected my house from a tornado/Jesus healed my tumor.” Aside from being offensive to those whose homes weren’t protected during a storm, and to those whose loved ones did die of tumors, statements like these are particularly senseless coming from the mouths of people who follow a religion in which God allowed his own son to die a horrible, agonizing death. Think about it for a moment: if God allowed Jesus to suffer, why should any of us be exempt?

That’s not to say God can’t or won’t protect a house in a storm or zap an illness away, but I find it’s easier to believe those things when it happens to you personally. Those of us who spent significant amounts of time in the chemo ward without success are more inclined to accept that the doctors did the best they could (really, thank God for doctors!), but sometimes, shit happens anyway. It’s a cold comfort – not really a comfort at all – to accept that sometimes tragedy has no apparent reason; you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you inherited crappy genes, you ignored the phone ringing that would have made you five minutes late, preventing you from ending up in that fourteen-car pile-up on 1-25.

I believe Jesus when he says that there is meaning and redemption that can come out of suffering. That, to me, is his biggest selling point: shit happens, but it can be used for great fertilizer if harvested the right way. I find comfort in being part of a faith that emphasizes meaning and closeness to God in suffering rather than seeking to excuse or avoid it. In such a fallen world as this, avoiding suffering is impossible. The promise of Jesus to redeem it is a far more comforting and realistic hope to rest on.


One thought on “Losing Jesus in the sea of cliches

  1. Dear Beth, Romans Chapter 8 – my all time favorite – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Roman 8:1 – Thank You Jesus, that takes care of us carrying around the shame and guilt of sin. Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that the suffering of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Thank You Jesus – whatever suffering I have to walk through, You already understand and have done far more – Isaiah 53. Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness…but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Thank You Jesus, when I’m on the floor with carpet fibers up my nose for not understanding the pain or why it is happening, the Word assures me, the Holy Spirit has me covered in prayer:) Finally, the one that is the hardest to understand and see on this side of “glory” Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Thank You Jesus, when I completely do not understand, am frustrated, disappointed, heartbroken, and in pain, I am going to continue to trust in the Father’s plan. For He loved me enough to send His precious Son, Who died a horrible death, paid the price, completely understands, and will bring me to His presence when His plan and purpose for my life is done here on earth. A stranger passing through on my way to the Kingdom and homeland:) I don’t know if this is something you want to “approve” to be posted. I do not normally go through the Scriptures. I will not be offended if you do not. Dear Beth, you hold a tender spot with me for your Judaism. I firmly believe, I am “grafted” into your bloodline from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I love learning and growing deeper in my Jewish Jesus. I am honored to be able to share with you. I love hearing your point of view. It opens my understanding a bit more every time I read something you post. Blessings Beth! and from my heart, Shalom!


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