When it turns out God hates all the same people you do

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.)” -Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird

Our small group has a rotation for leading, and this month is Mike’s month. Unlike any of the other guys, he has never had any formal small group leader training, but so far he has done great. For next Monday, he asked us to bring a few non-Biblical quotes that have inspired or challenged or represent our faith in some way. I haven’t thought a lot about it other than the fact that I know the above quote will be included. Besides being hysterically funny [Mike said if I was using this one, my others all had to be serious], this quote really challenges me. I do that. I totally do that.

As terrible as it is to have to admit, I have a tendency to hold grudges. I think I have gotten better about it in the past year and a half, but I do want the world to be a black-and-white, right-and-wrong kind of place. Where of course I am right. And everyone who agrees with me? Also right.

In Joshua chapter 5, Joshua sees a man and approaches him, asking “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The man responds, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Did you get that? Joshua is the commander of God’s chosen people, and yet this man is not on Joshua’s side. Instead, Joshua has to choose to be on God’s side and to do what God commands. Too often I want God to be on my side, when I feel I am right and I want to stand in my rightness. I want him to vindicate me against those who I perceive have wronged me. Instead, I need to learn to put aside my desire to be right, and to ask him for help in learning to desire what he says is right.

So, I love this quote because it cuts to the heart of my pride and self-righteousness. Anne Lamott has that way about her – she’ll have you laughing at a random example or anecdote and then smack you over the head with the truth. I can only recommend her non-fiction, though – I haven’t liked what fiction of hers that I have read.

(I’ll be thinking of more quotes in the next few days, and if I come up with something good, I’ll share it here.)

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