The great thing about having children is that, even when they leave home, they never really do, especially if they live in an apartment that doesn’t allow animals, and they insist upon getting a cat.
Such is the saga at our home these days, and the cat — which is psychotic because it’s a rescue kitty — is a temporary member of our household, until her new owner moves into an apartment that allows cats.
(This is a good time to point out that the cat’s owner is not looking for moving boxes right now, as she apparently has no immediate intention of relocating.)
So we’ve got this cat, and when she isn’t being psychotic — scuttling under furniture and hiding there because she’s afraid — she’s a fabulous lap kitty, because she loves being loved and adored and cuddled and held.
But the problem is, when we’re not holding and cuddling and cooing at her, and if we leave the room for 15 seconds or so, she uses the opportunity to scuttle out of our reach, because despite her love of being loved, she’s not convinced, somehow, that this is what will happen to her.
The parallel to the experience of many Christians is striking:
We all want to be loved, and indeed, that’s the reason that many of us (those who weren’t brought to the faith by the hellfire and damnation message) embraced Christianity, because at one point we were told,
“God is love. He loves you deeply and dearly, and He has a purpose for your life.”
Sounds like a great concept to me, which is why I accepted it so many years ago, but then a funny thing happened on my way to growth in Christ: I got plugged into a system in which I was instructed how to worship, what to read, how to think, and what to say, and because it was so well and subtly done (Protestants don’t have overt rules, but they do have rules), I found myself, years later, little advanced in my thinking about God, and indeed, a bit regressed:
I had embraced Christianity initially because it promised a God of love and acceptance and compassion, someone very different from the God I had been raised to see. But I never pursued that God of love, so busy was I with dodging the rules — attend church, tithe, go to Sunday School, be part of the Saturday work party, get up early for Quiet Time. Even though I never played the game, because I was surrounded by so many team players who did, I always had the feeling that the problem lay with me, somehow, and if only I could submit more to group think (always a bad idea, you know), I would fit in.
Thank God, quite literally, that I never did manage to fit in, and when He called me out to walk independently with Him, I had less to unlearn.
And what we have to unlearn is this false teaching: that God is a God of rules, more concerned that we “have correct doctrine” than that we seek — passionately and persistently — the love that drew us to Him in the first place.
We don’t have to be like Psycho Kitty — longing for love but running away because we’re afraid of our Father in heaven. He loves us as children, not slaves, and the more we grow to understand this, the more we walk about in His household with confidence, not fear.
Are you afraid of God? Do you think, deep down, that He’s playing with you, or ignoring you, or doesn’t really like, or love, you at all? If so, you’re one of many — even and especially among Christians — and I encourage you to follow the link to Psychotic Cats and God’s Love at Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet.