“Christianity is good because it keeps people moral.”
“Christianity is bad because it makes people complacent.”
“Christianity is bad because it establishes structures of sin and oppression.”
“Christianity is okay…if that’s your thing, if that does it for you.”
Christianity is none of these things. Either Christianity is true or its not. Its truth does not stand on its usefulness or benefits; the relative self-fulfillment of its followers; the actions of its adherents.
We sometimes want it to be the solution to our problems; the “Golden Key” or elixir for all that ails us. As Peter Kreefts says, “Even the image of the Golden Key fails, for a key is the solution to the problem of opening a door. But Christ is not, ultimately, our solution. (Is your lover your “solution”?) He is our divine Love and Lord. All the ‘problems’ of life are part of His marriage to us, His lovemaking, His foreplay…All things in life must be that, because He is not relative to them, they are relative to Him. Everything is, for He is God, and God is the absolute…He is not the solution to our problems; He is the giver of our problems. Our problems are His tasks and our opportunities, His teaching and our education, His will and our sanctification” (Jesus Shock, 37)
This reminds me of something my friend, Anny, has on her voicemail: “As G.K. Chesterton once said, ‘An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly” conceived.
So, whether it’s something “as small as a dropped earring or as large as death or (worse) a divorce, everything is somewhere on that love-line that runs from Him to us. He is our Universal Other, the One we are always in dialog with, the One pulling at the other end of the line. Whether we see it or not, whether we believe it or not, we always struggle with Him, not with our problems, our lives, our deaths, our friends, or our families…Your problem, however big it is (or however small), is His wise and loving will to you, even though it may not look wise or loving. It is His deliberate permissive will. And your response to it is your response to Him” (Jesus Shock, 37-38).
This is not a resigned fatalism or a masochistic determinism; it is the recognition and the determination to live fully alive in a relationship with the God of the universe. This is an invitation to turn to the Father, like Abraham did, to ask and receive as Jesus teaches us (cf. Luke 11:1-13). If we do this we will be witnesses, like the Psalmist: “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me” (138:3).