Chapter Six: Our Common Faith-killers

Chapter Six Our Common Faith-killers

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When a person does not trust God, there are three primary reasons. I call these our faith-killers. We cannot trust God if we are angry with Him. We cannot trust God if we are afraid of Him. We cannot trust God if we do not know Him well. Mable had a hard time trusting God, which positioned her to succumb to a self-reliant worldview and practice. If we’re not going to trust the Lord, we must trust ourselves, making us self-sufficient. I wanted Mable to see these things, so I dismantled each faith-killer during our next counseling sessions.

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Fear: At some level in her soul, she sinfully feared God. Mable thought that if she committed to follow Him regardless of what it cost or where it might take her, she might not get what she wanted. She believed that if she fully trusted God, He would take her further than she’d ever want to go and ask her to do more than she’d ever want to do. Therefore, she generally chose not to trust God, especially when the immediate outlook seemed disconcordant to her desires. In C. S. Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there is a conversation between the Beavers and Lucy about Aslan, the picture of Christ in the book. The conversation goes like this, Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?” The beaver responds, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Mable intuitively knew that God was not safe and, therefore, chose to take matters into her self-sufficient hands because her preferred good was at stake.

Anger: When I asked Mable about anger toward God, she disdainfully replied that she could never be angry with God. When I explored the matter a bit more, she relented, realizing that maybe she was angry with God. When most Christians hear the word anger, they think of explosions. However, most Christians do not struggle this way. The anger I was talking about was a low-grade fever that ran just under the surface of her life and only manifested during times of tension. By this kind of anger, I am referring to disappointment with God or discontentment with God. Other anger words that made up Mable’s psyche were frustration, impatience, bitterness, discouragement, and unkindness. Mable was too Christianized to say she was angry with God, but with more reflection, she did admit she was disappointed that when she was twenty-eight, she was still not married. In her mind, God did not come through for her. Therefore, Mable did it her way.

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Ignorance: I do not mean ignorance in a derogatory way but to indicate a lack of knowledge or pockets of unawareness of certain things about God. Due to a lack of proper discipleship, Mable had come to some poor conclusions about God. After a couple of hours of counseling, it became clear that Mable struggled at different levels with all three of these faith killers. She began to see why she was unwilling to wait and trust God and would instead take matters into her own hands. Mable had become angry and bitter toward God and Biff. Unwittingly, in her heart, she had moved from a sense of her responsibility in the marriage to a subtle belief that God and Biff had wronged her.

Mable had an idea of what marriage should be like. After several years with Biff, however, her dream had been shattered. During one of our sessions, she blurted out, “This is not what I signed up for!” In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller said, “[Our culture] shapes our responses to the world, and we find ourselves demanding a pain-free life. Our can-do attitude is turning into relentless self-centeredness.” Mable had drifted so far from the gospel that she believed she deserved better than all she had. The Bible says we deserve Hell; anything better than Hell is a plus. Because Mable was a Christian, she was doing far better than she deserved but wanted more. Unfortunately for Mable, she had fallen into the spoiled Christian attitude, a trap that does not accommodate suffering. Listen to the apostle Paul:

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).

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You won’t hear Philippians 1:29 in your “Do You Want to Become a Christian?” class. Paul says that there are two gifts at the point of our salvation: the first is faith in Christ, and the second is personal suffering. The apostle Peter said it another way:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Most people who wore the WWJD bracelets in the late 90s did not know that the idea came from 1 Peter 2:21. Typically, when people talk about their calling, they do not reference this passage. Paul and Peter were clear; suffering is part of our calling. Peter followed his theology of suffering passage (1 Peter 2:18–25) with the conjunction likewise, grammatically joining two thoughts. Peter was connecting, what he had just said about suffering to his instructions to wives who have husbands who are unresponsive to God (1 Peter 3:1–6).

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct (1 Peter 3:1– 2).

Peter brings a New Testament theological view of suffering into our postmodern living rooms. Mable needed to accept the Christian’s view of suffering. Before I could effectively address Biff’s issues, Mable had to come to humble repentance regarding her relationship with the Lord, specifically her self-reliant anger, fear, and ignorance.

Call to Action

  1. How do anger at God, fear of God, and unawareness of God affect your life?
  2. What comes to mind about the dual gifts of salvation and suffering?
  3. What would you ask Mable to do next?
  4. When you understood the self-reliant spirit, how did you walk out repentance?

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