Disappointment with God?

There is a new resource from BioLogos – a series of podcasts providing the opportunity for longer conversations on a range of issue. You can find them on the BioLogos site here and/or subscribe through a variety of services including Apple and Google. Two of the initial podcasts feature a conversation with Dr. Francis Collins, founder of BioLogos and current director of the National Institutes of Health. All of the podcasts so far touch on science and Christian faith – but also explore a variety of other issues in Christian faith. These are not science lessons.

Last night I listened to a podcast conversation between Jim Stump and Philip Yancey entitled What Good is Disappointment?. A range of topics are covered in the 40 minute conversation. At one point Jim directed the conversation to one of Yancey’s early books Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud.

There are many things science can’t teach us. One of these is how to behave. Our Christian faith gives us clear guidelines for behavior. Love, mercy, grace, mutual submission. As we read the bible, what kinds of people got under Jesus’s skin – who was he angry at? Generally the “bible thumpers” the pharisees who are concerned with purity, but not so much with people. In fact, anger is primarily directed at those who one way or another oppress or exploit others. The Pharisees, the rulers, the money changers in the temple. Paul’s anger has the same general direction.

Although it may seem a bit unholy to say we’re disappointed with God, the Bible gives us language and permission to lament and express disappointment, including disappointment with God. But disappointment is conditioned by expectations – we are only disappointed when we expect something better. God seems silent and absent, but is this true? Perhaps God has chosen to move from the direct interaction with his people through prophets to incarnation in Jesus and then to the church through the Holy Spirit.

God is silent, but how do we expect God to act? If he has chosen to be present in the world through his people, his church, then perhaps we would do better by asking why the church is silent. Is disappointment with God more accurately a disappointment with the church?

In a very real sense God has entrusted his divine reputation to the likes of us. Although we might question the wisdom of such a move, it is what God has done through the pages of the Bible culminating in the spread of the Gospel through the early church. Part of the answer to “where is God when it hurts?” is “where is the church when it hurts?” Where are we when it hurts? Where am I when it hurts? Yancy reflects that as a journalist he has seen the church doing what it is supposed to do and it is a truly powerful and beautiful thing. But all too often the church fails. The church embraces power or privilege or wealth rather than reaching out to the poor and downtrodden, the foreigner among us.

We believe that God grieves with humans created in his image and we are called to do something about it. The best apologetic is hand to heart to head. We reach out with our hands and touch people’s hearts, … and lead them to God.

It is a thought-provoking conversation.

Give some of the podcasts a listen – this is an excellent resource and I look forward to more to come.

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

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