Faith, Hope, a Chair With Little Claw Divots

If you’re reading this, you’re surprising me. I won’t post this on Crosswalk or Christianity.com. I won’t send out a notice to 400 readers telling them it’s here. As far as I know, no one will ever know this is here.

So if you’re here, it’s just you and me, baby.

Which, let’s face it, means it’s pretty much just me. People are so busy. And this is, after all, a blog.

Like people have time to read blogs.

It’s 9:30 p.m. here in California. Dark. Cold. (Well, to us. It’s maybe 50 degrees.) Cat’s asleep on the couch. Nat King Cole’s Christmas album is on the stereo. I’m in my office, on the gratifyingly huge leather chair we bought for $200 from a 42-year-old former champion moto-coss bicycle rider who lives with his parents. Nice guy. Bought the chair through an ad he’d run on Craigslist. He sold the chair for so little (the thing is gorgeous) because his newly divorced wife loved it–as did their cat, who left little claw marks all over it. I love the cat claw marks on it. I would have paid more for those.

Anyway. Here I am.

My office just now is strewn with the open books I’ve lately been pouring over relative to the work I’ve been doing on this new book I’m writing with Steve Arterburn. It makes me feel brainy to have open encyclopedia volumes and study Bibles and all kinds of reference books lying about. I think for awhile I’ll keep them  where they are. I like feeling brainy.

So here’s a few ideas with which I’ve lately been obsessed:

Cynacism is the easiest attitude in the world to adopt. It protects you from everything, and never dissapoints.

Faith and hope aren’t just virtues; they’re the virtues upon which all other virtues depend. You can’t be honest, kind, loving, caring, optimistic and compassionate if you don’t first have faith and hope.

The degree to which a person has faith and hope depends entirely upon the degree to which that person consciously experiences the excercising of his or her own free will. You do feel as much hope and faith as you do freedom; you do feel as much cynacism, anger and depression as you do that you are trapped.

It’s so easy (and even natural) to feel victimized, to feel that you’re just responding to life. But that’s never it. While we can’t always choose what does happen to us (though we can certainly have a lot more to do with that than we typically believe we can) we can always and ultimately choose how we’re going to react to whatever “happens” to us. That can’t be taken away. That choice–to either be positive or negative–is at the core of who we are.

It’s God’s singular gift to us. It’s his defining gift to us.

And why is that gift so critical to who we are, to whom God wants us to be relative to him? Because God wants us to choose to love him.

First he wants us fully empowered–fully free, fully independent–and then he wants us to choose to love him.

Then we bring him all we have, all we are, all we know it’s possible for us to be.

Then we meet life open-hearted, inspired, excited, fresh, optimistic. Then–when we are free, when we are in control of our power to always choose how we want to respond to whatever happens or comes our way–we can claim, as our own, true faith, and true hope.

Faith and hope aren’t about knowing everything is going to be okay. They’re about knowing that, by virtue of our free will, things are okay.

I don’t think God wants us to believe that one day all will be well. I think that’s where so much of modern Christianity has it soooooooo wrong. I think what God wants is for us to understand that, if we but will ourselves to understand it, all is well.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog tam

    Suprising you by letting you know I did read…

  • Gene Thomas

    I like the little snipit about cynacism–I fight it constantly. Is that a good sign? That I fight it.

  • dsilkotch

    Very nice, John. :^)

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Hanie

    John, you should have those Kodak moments with the open encyclopedias and books all over the place.

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you both!

    H

  • Second Michele

    " I think that’s where so much of modern Christianity has it soooooooo wrong. I think what God wants is for us to understand that, if we but will ourselves to understand it, all is well."

    From Romans 8:

    For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

    Note: The creation is not the way it should be. Currently, it is "subjected to futility" Not pretty word picture.

    Note: The saints (who have salvation, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and Hope) are still longing for something else.

    Not to undo what God has said about peace, joy and contentment in this life through faith in Jesus, but it seems like God has put several "Wish you were here (in Heaven with Me)" statements in the Bible. The Bible authors also indicate we should also be fixing our hope completely on the Second Coming.

    1 Peter 1:13

    Therefore,

    prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your

    hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ

    1 Cor 15:

    For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless;

    you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

    Hope everyone has fun celebrating the First Coming (Christmas) this year! Merry Christmas.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    And during this time of year it helps me to remember the first thing that God's messengers said in regards to Jesus' coming; "Do not be afraid." Love has come to dispell our fears and leave us with hope.

    Merry Christmas, John Shore.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hi, guys. Thanks so much for the insightful, thoughtful comments.

    Christian: Thanks for this heartening reminder! Very beautiful. I know you and I share the conviction that too often, and much too easily, Christianity is used to foster fear and anger rather than peace and love.

  • breezy

    and just when I thought I’d stop crying for a little (after all the tears of joy that have flowed over the last few days)…then along comes John Shore.

    As wonderful as the last few days have been , I feel that prick of sadness in my heart for the children’s father. The love and joy that he is missing out on…these are truly the best years of ours and our childrens lives and my heart breaks that his un-belief drives him away from us all. He is truly a kind and talented man and his children and I need him to be the man God made him to be.

    Could you join me in prayer for him during this Christmas season, thank you so much, with love in Christ, breezy


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