Monday, June 09, 2008

The Lie That Twists

(Someone wrote to me with the following comments, which she agreed to let me post. My response follows.)

Hey Ralph,

Did you see this urban legend about the new dollar not having "In God We Trust" on it? It is a false accusation, as the Snopes website chronicles, but the initial email still gets me rolling my eyes. If you read below the mass email, it says if we don't have "In God We Trust" on our money, then "God will turn his face from us." What is that?! It seems insidious at so many levels. It is those kind of comments that not only manipulate Christians into feeling their salvation is based on their own militancy, but it also makes non Christians think, "There goes those right wing extreme fundamental Christians again."

I suppose a Bible reader could argue that our money is actually "Cesars" and we should not expect it to have God's name on it, and someone with a bit of humor might wonder if God isn't just a little insulted to be associated so closely to our cultures most worshipped god of all - money.

What do you think?

(My response is below.)
Brilliant! Much of western Christianity (and a type being sold in Russia and in Asia) asserts that to get what you want, you have to get God to give it up. Think what one could put in the "here's how" part of the equation! So, at the foundation is a terrible error, one that motivates everything else: we don't believe that God has given us absolutely everything for entirely nothing in Christ. We're seduced into believing we have to earn more than the everything we've already been given, and that twists Christians into militant and vigilant, nervous and anxious images of God.

I think that lie, that God is withholding something desirable from us, is the same one the serpent seduced Eve with in the Garden. God is reluctant to give, God is withholding something good from you, but if you'll just do this, you can get it. . .and, heck, He may even want you to get it after all. Does that make sense? So, from that day to this, you can see that lie--God is withholding something good from you--running through history, and running through our bookstores and churches today, twisting us now as it did then.

When I see its' effects, it makes me angry, too. However, I am mostly angry at the liar, the one who sold the lie the first time and who sells it today. It's robbing us and mutating us into rich beggars around God's throne. Think of it. Think of the affront to God that is. It makes elder brothers out of us, slaving away out in the fields away from Dad, working and working for what we already have. And if we work for what we already have, we never get it. And if we're busy in the field working--after all, it's most important--then we don't get to be with dad very much.

A favorite author of mine, Malcolm Smith, put it something like this: "If I walked up to one of you seated here today and told you, "Sit down, man, sit down!" you would either think I was weird in my command, or you'd be miserable trying to be what you already are." That's how it is when we tell Christians how to earn the anointing or get God's promises or favor or national blessing. Everything is entirely ours in Christ already! Strive no more! It's His gift to us. (Except for that little national blessing thingy. I don't think God looks to give us such a thing. But then, that's just my opinion.)

That's the magnificent gospel! And that's the target of the devil. I'm delighted that you're not buying the lie, perhaps even more so because you're seeing the ugly twist.

Well done.

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