I didn’t expect to find myself in a book about theology, even one written in a popular accessible style. In a sense, I was ambushed.
Here’s how the story begins.
You’re walking down a road, and you see ahead that the road forks. Fortunately, each fork has a sign.
One sign, pointing to the left, says “Pleasing God.”
And the other sign, pointing to the right, says “Trusting God.”
You didn’t necessarily have a specific destination in mind, but you surely didn’t expect the choice before you. What you don’t know is where either will take you.
So begins The Cure: What if God Isn’t Who You Think He Is and Neither Are You, by John Lynch, Bruce McNichol and Bill Thrall.
The story takes on both roads; you’re not left wondering what you might have missed on the other road.
I suspected that “Pleasing God” was not the way to go. I was right, but not for the reason I thought. “Pleasing God” is the road to man-made religion, which is likely the most common form of religion in the world today, Christianity included. It’s the road that leads you to a room full of those famous paving stones; we all know what the road to hell is paved with. And the people in that room may seem familiar.
“The Room of Good Intentions broke and jaded their hearts, robbing them of hope,” the authors write. “It made them so sick they’re nearly anesthetized to believing life can ever be different. Man-made religion has beaten them down. Many are oozing with apathy. They can think of no good reason to try, they simply don’t care. Some of God’s most passionate, gifted, and dedicated servants are despondent along that road.”
And for me, it was so far, so good. I was cool. I understood what was happening, and what the point was.
“These wounded express themselves in many forms. Some are cynical and smug, but it’s a cover. They’re self-protecting from vulnerability. They’re still articulate and insightful—they just now speak from the fringes of the arena. They’re bleeding from having risked vulnerability in a community that didn’t know what to do with it” (emphasis added).
Smack between the eyes. I thought I had been on that other road, “Trusting God,” the one that leads to the Room of Grace. Initially, it’s the harder, more difficult road. But it has a destination that matters. The other road doesn’t, with predictable results.
I pondered this. I chewed on it. Or perhaps it chewed on me. They’re bleeding from having risked vulnerability in a community that didn’t know what to do with it.
That could sum up a good part of my career.
That could sum up a good part of my experience with church.
I’m still pondering. Or being chewed upon. And this is only the first chapter.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re just beginning to read The Cure. To see more posts on this chapter, “Two Roads,” please visit Sarah at LivingBetween the Lines.
Photograph by Bobby Mikul via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.