God in a box

When you encounter difficult circumstances, have you ever wondered why the easier path is always wide? It's because that's the path everyone takes. Matthew 7:13 speaks to this issue, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." In practical terms, here is how this plays out: Do you have trouble in your marriage? File for divorce. Are you in a financial dispute with someone? Sue them. Do you have a particular beef with someone? Gossip about the issue rather than approach the individual directly. Are you having challenges in your community group? Quit.

James 1:2-4 says to, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Some like to place God/Christ in a box and pull Him out on Sunday mornings, but in doing so people miss out on seeing how He's working in our lives the other 6+ days of the week. We're supposed to reflect Christ--his attitude, his grace, and his love--and the path to becoming more like Christ requires trials. With a little bit of perspective, though, it's easy to see that the trials we face in America pale in comparison to the trials Christians face elsewhere in the world.

I don't speak for God, and I've got a long way to go before I'm able to have a Christ-like worldview, but here's how I'd see Him addressing these problems: Do you have trouble in your marriage? Seek marital counseling, pray, and surround yourself with happily married couples who can be role models. Are you in a financial dispute with someone? Pray, approach the individual in love, and discuss your differences one-on-one. Do you have a particular beef with someone? Pray, and then humbly go to the individual and discuss the issue in a mature manner (and don't do this via email!). Are you challenged in your community group? Approach the subject with grace, pray, reach out to other group members by making it a priority to invest time outside of the group meeting, give others the benefit of the doubt (i.e., don't assume malice when it's probably just a misunderstanding), and to paraphrase Dr. Phil, you can't change others; you can only change yourself, so look inside your heart to see what is keeping you from being open, honest, and transparent, and ask God to change you.