12 November 2015

"But I have a note from God..."

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in December 2012. Dan addressed the unBiblical idea of a "note from God," and the many ways that it is used to rationalize disobedience.

As usual, the comments are closed.
When I was a child, I had a pretty prodigious case of asthma. During the days when doctors made house calls, my parents would have to call the doctor occasionally to come and give blue-lipped gasping young me a shot of adrenalin to open up my lungs, so I could breathe again.

So later on in school I had a note from Mom, excusing me from physical activities such as track and the like. Running meant wheezing, and that wasn't good. So that note from Mom meant I didn't have to do what all the other kids had to do. Them, yes. Me, no.

That was a real note, a literal note, for a real reason. I didn't write it; my mother did. Behind her was the doctor. It had oomph. It was legit.

Throughout the 400 or so years of my Christian life, I have been astonished over and over at how many Christians imagine they have "a note from God." Unlike my mother's note, it isn't visible, it isn't readable by others, and it won't stand inspection. The oomph it has is supplied by their own imagination, and a complex series of accompanying diversions and rationalizations.

This phantom note excuses them from having to do what every other Christian in every other age and every other location on the globe (other than their little 2X2 spot) has been morally obliged to do.

Them, perhaps. Me, no. I have this note.

Such notes, and usually for such transparently flimsy reasons!

It is the characteristic of each note-holder that he will insist that his note is legitimate. He really does have a note from God, excusing him. He is the exception. Anyone not convinced by his rationalization "just doesn't understand," or worse.

But such note-holders need to remember: every unrepentant sinner is convinced that his sin is different. (See #15 here.) No exceptions. It's axiomatic.

Every one of us sinners insists that what we're doing is right — until we repent of it. So the person who refuses to get involved in a local church, refuses to treat his/her spouse as Christ commands, commits rape or murder or theft, refuses to love/respect his/her spouse, indulges homosexual desires, gossips, gripes, mopes as if he had no grounds for hope — they're all the same; and they're all the same in that each imagines he's different.

Repentance changes all that. Repentance puts God's finger on me, stops me dead, isolates me from everything, changes the issue to God and His Word and me, shatters all pretenses, and requires death and resurrection.

See, we tend to forget that the Gospel is radical and transformative. We tend to forget: when Jesus calls us to Himself, He calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow him. To deny myself is radical and transformative. It is to unseat myself as lord. To take up my cross is radical and transformative. It is to die to that life of rationalizations and excuses designed to cushion the pursuit of my own wants, needs and desires. To follow Jesus is radical and transformative. It calls on me to take my internal Canaan, city by city, and subject all of it to the Lordship of Jesus.

And we'll never make headway in any of that until we learn to shred every last one of our imagined "notes from God."