Cut God Up into Little Pieces (The Danger of a Slice and Dice Approach to Faith)

science-1121481_640Cut God up into little pieces.

That’s what I think I must do, in order to cope with what I think the Christian life is supposed to be about.

I don’t really try to cut God into pieces but I do dissect His word and choose some parts to examine, while pushing others off to the side.

Do you do that? Do you sometimes pick and choose from God’s commands; excelling on some aspects of the faith while ignoring others?

Or perhaps you strive to be good at all aspects of the Christian life and live with a constant sense of discouragement because your daily performance falls short.

I manage to do both. (Yes, I’m that talented at getting it wrong.)

Four days into 40 Ways to Get Closer to God. Day two, MacGregor mentions that our culture refers to people as “consumers” and that that label affects our mentality about life. The idea sticks in my thinking as I attempt three days of assignments.

Apparently, I’ve embraced the label, for that is precisely what I do. I try to consume God as if I spotted Him on a late night infomercial. Like a product I’ve ordered over the CWW (cosmic wide web), I decide how I want Him delivered.

He’s so vast, that I’ve requested delivery of His Holy Spirit in installments. Always, like a consumer, wanting to control the process. And I treat His Holy Word like an ala carte menu, devouring some passages, passing on others.

Slicing and dicing the author of my faith.

This becomes clear to me when the first three assignments involve disciplines I avoid.

They aren’t new ideas. They’ve appeared on my radar before, but after previous attempts to incorporate them into my spiritual life and finding them a) hard work, and b) not something I do well, I somehow decided they’re activities I can thrive without.

But are they?

Do spiritual disciplines only “work” if I’m good at them?

Or is there power in the practice of them even if I would grade the results of my efforts with a C?

Suddenly, I see I’ve been thinking that God only expects me to do things if I’m good at them or have a hope of being good at them. But really there are no clauses in scripture that certain commands are negotiable if any one follower thinks he or she might not excel in that area.

Somehow, I began to believe that not being good at something gave me a pass on certain spiritual disciplines, so I put all my focus on the ones I am good at or think I can be good at and file the rest under “extra credit.”

These assignments made me rethink that.

What if God wants us to try everything He asks of us KNOWING we won’t be good at some of it? What if being “good” at it, isn’t’ even really the point?

My husband believes I’m “better” at doing the dishes than he is. Whenever he puts dishes away, it takes me a while to find things that are not back in their place. But, that’s okay. I’m not critical because I appreciate why he did the dishes in the first place – because he loves me.

That love part. That’s the key.

If my husband did the dishes in order to check off that he had “done the dishes for his wife” on some “good husband” list, well, that would bother me and I might become critical.

Initially, I approached this God challenge as if getting closer to God is something I can add to my list of achievements. Each task was something I could check off in order to move closer to MY GOAL. As if my goal, rather than to become closer to God, was to become “an accomplished Christian.”

There’s another word for an accomplished, disciplined Christian without love – Pharisee.

It suddenly struck me (okay, it might have been another Gibbs slap from God) that maybe I should stop worrying about how good I am at these assignments!

What if I stopped seeing them as pitons on the wall of faith and, instead, focused on them as acts of love. Not skills to acquire and practice but simple, clumsy expressions of my devotion for Jesus Christ?

I sense a shift in the force . . .

And as soon as I wrote this post, I peeked ahead at tomorrow’s 40 Days Closer to God assignment. NOT coincidentally, I’m sure, the word LOVE figures predominantly . . . I think I’m on to something.

Strange that by attempting to learn a couple of new spiritual disciplines, the Lord has led me to some very freeing thoughts. I don’t have to be good at them in order for them to bring me closer to God.


Seriously, wow!

(In the Psalms, the word Selah can be translated as “Wow, pause and think about that one, dude.” So, it’s perfectly spiritual for me to end with wow.

How’s the challenge going for you?

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    The Conversation

  1. Lynn Morrissey says:

    I’ll be behind on the challenge, b/c I have had to order the book. THanks for your honesty, Lori. I know I easily gloss over those verses which, either I don’t think apply to me, or which I would prefer to avoid because they *do*! Oh my! Another thing I do is at times to take God’s Word cavalierly by skimming it in when it’s included in other texts. If someone quotes Scripture in a book, I’ll often gloss over it (bec. I think I know it already) and get to what the author is saying rather than what the Author is saying! How pitiful is that?! I’m not sure from your post exactly what Chip’s challenge was, but obedience to His Word is sure at the top of my personal list–obedience to ALL of it (so I’d best stop all that glossing over, huh?!)

  2. Thanks for weighing in, Lynn. I’m intentionally not revealing all of the assigments in my blog posts because some readers would just try them and they would miss out on Chip’s understanding of why they’re important to try. All of us Christian writers are communicating old truth in new ways. It’s good to hear the new ways.

  3. Wow, this makes me want to read the book, and it makes me afraid to read the book at the same time!

  4. Do the thing you’re afraid to do, Betsy!

  5. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Thanks, Lori. Yes, I think you had made it clear in your orig. post why you weren’t relaying Chip’s actual challenges. Can’t wait to read (and hopefully apply!) them myself. Thanks for bringing the book to our att’n!

  6. Mick says:

    This is helpful–I’m not alone!

  7. I like what you said about getting “extra credit” and God being an “assignment.” Very clear wording, which made me think.

  8. Seriously wow indeed!