My Two Cents

Rick-Warren-Quote-Unlovely-People

I disagree. 

I admire Rick Warren’s work and appreciate his ministry more than the typical person on the street. But this particular quote seems surprisingly off the mark to me.  Perhaps I’m taking the concept further than it was intended, or perhaps the saying is more of a sound bite than a reliable dogma. Here’s how it looks played out to the extreme:

God teaches you to forgive by causing your spouse to have an affair. Really?

God teaches you patience by causing your date to be an hour late. Really?

God teaches you tolerance by causing your best friend to emotionally abuse you. Really?

The application of that principle in specific situations where I decide specifically what God is trying to teach is painting a really ugly picture of God. Does God orchestrate tragedy in my life because I’m a bad person and need to learn something? Or does the rain fall on the good and the bad?

Let’s see how it looks when the logic is reversed.

If I was already more forgiving, nothing would happen in my life that would require me to forgive.  Really?

If I was already more patient, I would never have to wait. Really?

If I was already more loving, there would be no unlovely people around me. Really?

Do the things that happen to me and around me occur because of me? Looking at it this way give me a whole bunch of control. It is self-centered. It encourages perfectionism in my thinking because, if I believe the logic, then I must also believe that if I was just a better person I would be able to control the circumstances and people around me. When unlovely things continue to happen to and around me, the natural conclusion is that I am a bad person – I didn’t get my act together well enough. This then produces self-loathing, anger, frustration, guilt and shame. It is a codependent way of thinking that enmeshes me with the people in my life.

Here’s what I think:

God teaches us to love by loving us. 

There are unlovely people in my life because I live in a war zone where there is a battle going on between good and evil. I am not in control of the other people in my life. I am simply traveling beside them and have experiences as a result of that shared journey. Sometimes I am the unlovely person. Sometimes other people who I love are the unlovely people. And always God is so amazingly good that He is able to create beauty where the enemy planned destruction.

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5 Comments

  1. betternotbroken

     /  January 6, 2015

    I shall raise your two cents another penny and agree! I do not think God is that mean. It sounds like projection of someone who teaches using too “tough” of “love.”

    Reply
    • I find it to set a person up to tolerate abuse. It causes them to believe everything bad that happens to them or around them is THEIR fault. It’s extremely self-defeating and an unloving teaching to propagate.

      Reply
      • betternotbroken

         /  January 6, 2015

        Completely agree! In fact, I believed that and that is one of the reasons I tolerated abuse, now I give God more credit.

  2. I’ll throw in my two bits, too, on this very good point of view!

    It’s like when people say God sends, oh, I don’t know, cancer or bankruptcy, or some other catastrophe your way to teach you a lesson or humble you, or whatever.

    (Of course they are left somewhat speechless if such tragedies occur to children…)

    Among the “world, the flesh, and the devil,” there is enough trouble.

    It has been my experience, as a believer of, now, over 41 years, that in whatever mayhem occurs, God is the hand of redemption, not the author of that darkness…

    Reply
    • I believe lessons are there in the experiences – because God is gracious. But I reject the idea that He is the author or instigator of pain and suffering – physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

      If you read my “Then God” page, you will see my first husband died of cancer. There were many blessings that God graciously tucked in to that experience. But I reject the idea that God caused the cancer in order to teach any of the lessons we learned then or any that I’ve learned in my life since his death.

      Reply

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