Dodging the ultimate question

August 7th, 2017

“What would you have me do, Lord?” Saul’s question to Jesus burdens me after a spiritual feast with old and new friends at the third national conference of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists, August 4-6 in St. Louis.

I came home pondering and praying over how to help several earnest seekers for an exit out of Christian Science, pass over the last bridge they can’t seem to cross in fully breaking with Mrs. Eddy and submitting to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Reviewing my conversations with some of these “almost out but stuck” CSers, I saw there are four questions we ask ourselves in working out our religion, worldview, and way of life.

1. What do I want from others?
2. What do others want from me?
3. What do I want from God?
4. What does God want from me?

And I realized how much easier the first three questions are for all of us as fallen human beings to grapple with and eventually answer — compared to that last question, which is truly the ultimate issue in anyone’s life.

Specifically with the Christian Science mindset, which teaches us to think of God as an idea, an impersonal bundle of attributes and synonyms, a metaphysically and mentally accessible “something,” it is all too easy for the restless yet comfortable CSer to leave God in a vague status where “wanting this or that from me” isn’t even a meaningful concept.

Put differently: by relativizing and subjectivizing all reality, the Eddy teachings temptingly invite followers — even when inclined to leave Science as such — to make God in their own image rather than bow in submission as His image.

So my Question 4, the ultimate question with all its risk and discomfort and unsettling consequences, hovers out there beyond the horizon, better to evade and dodge than to confront and face the music.

What does God want from me? My all, everything I am and have and value and hope for. The whole thing, nothing held back.

And who is this all-demanding “God”? None other than the triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit whom first, imperfectly, the Jews glimpsed and served and whom now for 20 centuries the Christians have fully known (but also, in their own way, imperfectly served) through Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen and reigning.

And where do we meet this narrowly particular God? In the pages of his written word, the Bible, and in the lives of his saints, and in the long unbroken (though again imperfect) stewardship of his church.

Even as I typed the previous dozen lines, I could hear the almost-out-but-stuck Christian Scientist, gripped more strongly than he can possibly know by intellectual self-sovereignty, saying “Yes, but….”

It’s a neat evasion, all the neater because naively unconscious, to keep postponing the Saul of Tarsus moment of reckoning with a stern but loving God by hiding behind faux-sophisticated definitional and epistemological quibbles over which God exactly are we talking about and how can we be sure anyway.

Father, give me prayerful patience and persistence to stay in dialogue with these loved ones — and give them the humbling lessons that will push across the final, difficult, glorious bridge from almost-out to fully-out.

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