message board

your email




join the conversation

write for us

add your site



  GINKWORLD: VOICES: articles  



[site search]   [ report a dead link] [ message board] [add your voice]

I don’t believe in God, because I want to piss him off

by john o'keefe



About once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less, I gather with a small group of people who are “wounded by God.”  They are people of differing ages, differing experiences, different life styles, differing points of reference and yet one very important core experience – they are pissed at God.  I got connected to their little group by “accident” (as if God works anything by accident).  One day, while drinking a café mocha (venti) at my fav local starbucks waiting for a friend, I over heard a conversation between two people about “God and being pissed.”  I did not want to “get involved” so I picked-up a news paper and started to read, pretending not to listen but straining my ears to hear every word.  Soon, others joined the conversation and a small group of people, all strangers to each other, formed and God became the center of topic.  After about a half hour, I jumped in; to quote one of my fav theologians of my youth (Popeye) “I had all I can take, I can takes no more.”


I introduced myself and apologized for listening to the conversation, but I was very interested in what they were talking about.  I asked if I could join in the discussion.  One (Raymond) invited me to join, and I did.  I was honest, and told them up front that I was a Lead Pastor with a church (most could not believe it) and that I did not want to join to “give the party line.”  I truly wanted to hear what they had to say.  So I listened, only answering questions when they were directed at me by name, and never once making an excuse for what another pastor said or did and I never questioned what they were saying and feeling.  This first night we sat for a few hours, and just talked – it was defiantly an eye-opening experience.  When we left that night, we shared phone numbers and suggested we gather again in a month.  With that being said, I figured the meeting would be over, and we would not gather together again.  But I was wrong; about a month later I got a call and an invite to meet again, “same bat time, same bat station.”


Over time I got to know this little group pretty well, and they got to trust me.  Let me share with you a little about each member of the group (not all, but the few that did not mind me sharing – within limits) and what they have to say.  By doing so, I am certain you will see what some people think about God, the church and Christians.


Raymond: a 33-year-old male, who after what seemed to be a lifetime of loneliness found his soul mate, married her and started a family.   Raymond is a Real Estate Agent who walked out on God after a drunk driver in a head-on collision killed his wife and daughter.  He has a hard time seeing a God of love allowing such pain and taking the only thing he lived for from him.  What caught me about Raymond was his statement, “I don’t believe in God, because I want to piss him off.”


Kevin: a 25-year-old male, who is a crap dealer in a large Strip Casino and is a practicing homosexual.  He left the church after being confronted by a small group of people who demanded he change his life style.  But the closing to the deal was when he tried to make an appointment with the Senior Pastor to talk about his homosexuality and he could not get one, but did get a letter from the Pastor stating he had been removed from the church and was not welcomed back.  His statement about God that stuck with me was, “Why should I believe in God, God doesn’t believe in me.”


Karen:  a 36-year-old divorced mother of three.  Her ex-husband was on the Board of the church and when she filed for divorce, the church asked her to leave.  While her husband stayed, is still on the board and is engaged to be married.  When the church found out that she filed for divorce she was confronted by a group of the elders wives who explained to her that God did not allow for divorce for something as “trivial as physical abuse.”  Her statement about God is, “I want nothing to do with a God that tells me I have to stay in an abusive relationship.”


Michael:  a 23-year-old male construction worker who was new to the faith when he turned away from God.  After joining the church Michael was stoked and decided to get a “I Love Jesus” tattoo – to add it his growing collection.  Michael was asked to help with the youth group, and he wanted to join the worship band and play bass.  Soon after the tattoo the Senior Pastor approached him and told him that he would not be able to work with the youth, and the Worship Pastor had concerns about his wanting to join the band.  The Senior Pastor explained that tattooing was against all of God’s teachings and that by his getting a tattoo he was showing that he truly did not accept Jesus as his savior.  The Pastor added, “What you see as an act of love, God sees as an act of sin.  God does not accept tattooing, piercing or rock music.”  Michael left the church and what he said was most enlightening, “How can God be relevant to life, when he is so irrelevant to life?”


As I got to know the people in this group, and got to love each and every one of them, I was impressed in their desire to share with me their stories.  I was honored to be part of their inner circle.  As I listened to their stories I found common treads, common elements that spoke volumes to me, and how I saw my ministry; and how I saw the church and what it needs to do to change.  I never told anyone in the group they were wrong, nor did I try to “fix” the problem.  I felt it was my place to listen, and to let them know that someone in the church cared enough to list without making excuses.  I would like to share with you my observations over my time with this group and hopefully Christians will know how to act:


First, and I cannot stress this enough, their pain is real – do not discount that pain; do not try to trivialize that pain; do not try to “correct” that pain.  Too many times we Christians try to trivialize the pain of others as “immature” or “simplistic” and that must not be the case.  What I have found is that all the members of my little group have a deep passion for their point of view.  Trying to tell them that their point of view is wrong will only cause them to dig-in deeper and see you as “one of those church people.”  Over time I have experienced that passion, and I have been the blunt end of that passion.  By them knowing I am a Pastor, and I am willing to listen and no fix, I am fair game for all the pain and all the emotion that drives the passion of their hearts. 


I was sharing one of the stories with a Pastor friend of mine, and his first reaction was, “God did not do this, people in the church did this.”  While he may be “true” it is not right, which brings me to my second point.  For most people you cannot separate the God from his followers, they are intertwined.  If a follower treats a person poorly, that person associates that action with God.  If a follower is judgmental, God is judgmental; if a follower is cruel, God is cruel; if a follower is closed, God is closed; if a follower is relevant, then God is irrelevant.  The logic follows that a follower follows the teachings of their God, so how they act is how God acts – it’s very logical – no matter how “wrong” you may think it is, it’s a fact.  We, over time, have anthropomorphize God to the point of giving the deity unrealistic human emotions.  To take what Raymond says about “pissing off God.”  He knows that’s not possible, but it is possible to piss off his followers.  You see, what those outside the church believe is that the way you act is the way your God teaches you – act badly, your God is bad.


What do we do?

So, the question becomes, what do we do about this as Christians?  First, listen – shut-up and listen.  Be open to hearing what people say.  When I say listen I do not mean just hear them, I mean listen to them, know their hearts and allow them to scream and do not try to “solve” the problem – and never “try to help them see the churches point of view.”  They will come to that in God’s time, not yours.  Second, don’t try to take the blame off God and put it on the people – God can handle the pressure.  Third, and to me the most important, stop trying to find excuses why you cannot act like Christ, and act like Christ.  Saying things like “we are human and humans make mistakes” has no value to those outside the church; they see it as an excuse to abuse.   I was speaking with a Pastor friend (the one who puts it on “imperfect humans.”) who said that Paul and others in Scripture were constantly telling the church to ‘get it together’ but they never do, proving that man’s imperfections drive us – how poor an excuse.  While I agree Paul does tell churches to get it together, he never says, “but it’s ok your only human.”  We are told to change, and it is not optional.  If cultural forces drive us, and we are driven by human desires and wants then exactly what are we transformed from and into?  We need to see that our walk is one that gets us deeper into being Christ-like and not less anything else.





shameless ads 

[click here to place an ad with ginkworld]