Thursday, April 10, 2014

but does it work?

Quit complaining and be grateful!  Focus on the positive!
If you want to have a friend, be a friend!

I say these things to myself, to my children.  And there is certain logic to this way of thinking.  Call it common sense, or the "law of attraction," or the "Secret..."

Like this:

life is an echo

You will get what you give. If you want life to work, then get to work.

I was recently challenged to think more critically on this topic thanks to our book club (we are reading Broken by J. Fisk.)  He describes the "law" of pragmatism--

You can find God with your mind and or feelings- whatever "works." Or if not god, then at least you can create the type of world you think he should have created in the first place.

There is such an appeal to this way of thinking. It assumes a few things, things that I tend to assume.
1. Life should work.
2. If it isn't working, I can and will find a way to make it work.

If life "worked," what would it look like?
Well, for me, it would look like mothering children that never fight, and handling all challenges with wisdom and calm confidence. It would look like never feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, but always feeling accomplished, fufilled, and successful. (And I'd also have the body that I had in high school.)

When I find that life is not working, what do I do?
I turn over every stone, looking for ways to fix it. Or, I try to solve the problem by forcing my feelings to change.

In many cases, THIS WORKS!  Of course it does! It makes perfect sense!

So what's the problem?

If the worldview of Star Wars was marketed as a real religion, would people buy it? Fisk argues that it has, and we do.  We humans so badly want to control the forces of the universe with our minds, we are eager to listen to those who tell us that we can.

From the popular book "The Secret" -

"Our thoughts dictate the reality we receive."

 "The law of attraction is that our thinking creates and brings to us whatever we think about," she says. "It's as though every time we think a thought, every time we speak a word, the universe is listening and responding to us." (Louise Hay-- The Secret)

I do not believe our feelings create vibrations that expand and attract either good or bad things back to us.  But Fisk's description made it clear to me: I do fall into the error of pragmatism.

Does it work?

I can't seem to help but ask this question. And I can't seem to help wanting all things to WORK in my life, by which I mean be easy and pleasant.  Isn't that the purpose of life? Avoid suffering. Be happy.  Sieze the day.

Further (sin upon sin!) I even approach God in this way.  I make Jesus "practical" in the worst way.
 "Hooray! Jesus loves me!  Now that I know this I can make life work! I'll avoid suffering! And I will be happy!"

But God...
But God does everything absolutely backwards.

He sees us fallen humans, turned in on ourselves, obsessed with making ourselves happy.  He sees us, stuck in suffering and unable to make ourselves free, cursing Him and hurting each other. He sees those who hate Him, who reject His Word.

The darkness of our hearts should repel God.
It should separate us from Him.
But His compassion draws Him right into it.

He comes right here, right into this suffering, that which we were born into, and that which we willfully brought on our own heads.

It makes no sense.

The pounding nails, and the reply: "Father, forgive them."
The heart clenched in a hateful fist, cooled by gospel rain.
The law-breaker, not broken, but pardoned by the Broken One.

Jesus is Jesus for me, but not to help me make life "work." He wants more for me than ease. He wants to kill my old nature completely, and nurture the new. He wants to draw me deeper and deeper into Himself, into his crazy backwards love, into his love that loves the unlovable and makes them lovely.

In this chapter, Fisk exposed one of my idols, the one called "I deserve a life that works."

I am reminded of two things, things I should already know. But these things change everything.

1. In light of my sin, I do NOT deserve a life that "works."  My attempts to force the universe to make life work are pathetic and probably sinful.
2. God in his great mercy has given His Son to die for me and I am forgiven.

Zoom out.
Look at the bigger picture.
Why worry so much about whether life seems to be "working" or not?
Your biggest need has been met. You are reconciled in Christ to the God that made You.
He is making all things new, even you.

When life "works," thank God.
When it doesn't work, know that it is working, because He is working.

No need to seek Him in your thoughts or feelings or circumstances.
Embrace Him where He is- in His Word.

"Lord help us to remember that this life is not about being perfectly happy 
nor is it about being well. 
It is about waiting in hope for you to fufill all things."

Related links of interest (if you want to hear more nonsense!)

Larry King Interviews Oprah on The Secret
A nice summary of The Secret on Oprah's website
Celebrity testimonies
How to use the Law of Attraction
Law of Attraction on Pinterest
A rebuttal to Be Positive or Be Quiet (From Fighting for the Faith)
(There is a nice thorough podcast here from Lutheran guys, which is worth listening to if you are interested in this topic!!!)

1 comment:

  1. Embrace Him where He is - in His word. Beautifully written Emily. Just what I needed to hear today!
    I cannnot imagine what it would be like if He were practical and treated me the way I approach Him. This is a fantastic perspective of how life could be lived.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful message!


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