“Fellow Losers…” Real Honesty In A Used-Car-Salesman World

Two of the bloggers I read have been talking about how real life is not as clear cut as we sometimes would like it to be. As a matter of fact, it’s down right messy, broken and confusing. And if anyone offers you easy answers…well… like C. S. Lewis said, “Let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies – these over-simple answers.” 

Brant Hansen has come back from a short blogging hiatus with two posts (must reads, in my opinion) about his own stuggles, and it turns out, lots of other folks’ same stuggles. “Fellow losers” comes from his second post.

Dan Edelen posts here about using the words “I don’t know” when trying to answer the question, “What’s God trying to teach you through this circumstance?”

Both really speak, in different ways, about our compulsion to tidy up our messy, unfinished lives so that we look like we’ve got it all together to anyone who happens to be watching. We’ve all done it, most of us have done it so long we don’t even notice it anymore.

The problem is, it’s a lie, and it makes us a lie too. 

For a lot of years I dismissed the “Because you’re all a bunch of hypocrites” standard reason why folks don’t go to church, because I thought they were using it as a smokescreen. Of course we’re all hypocrites, that’s a given. They just didn’t want to deal with God and their own messes.

I still think it is a smokescreen, sometimes. But I also think that there isn’t much that is as unattractive and repulsive as a sales pitch from someone you know is a fraud.  And they know we are frauds.

We tell them, “You need Jesus. Just trust in God and he’ll make your problems disappear. Your marriage will be better, your kids will have straight teeth and straight A’s, and you’ll get that promotion. Oh yeah, remember to tithe and God will pour out the financial blessings, pressed down and shaken together.”

Then they look at our lives and know it’s a lie. The divorce rate among evangelicals is a little above national averages, our kids need braces and tutors too, most of us dislike our jobs as much as they do and tithing usually results only in having 90 % of our income to live on.

I’m not saying God doesn’t help with at least some of those things, sometimes. I’m just saying God isn’t as easy to pin down as we lead folks to believe.  Psalm 77 says, “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen…” Isaiah 55, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” His ways are past tracing out according to Paul in Romans. But we think the only way people will believe us is if everything has easy answers… and six steps to an easy life. 

I think about the only thing we (us, not Jesus) have to offer this world of brokenness is the truth. The ugly, rough edged, I need prozac, I don’t know the answer, I’m a mess and that’s who God prefers to love, truth.

A little honesty, that’s all. 

Wouldn’t you breathe a little easier if this Sunday your Pastor got up in the pulpit and started his sermon with the words, “Fellow losers…”? I mean, after the shock (and the laughter) wore off, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to carry around the heavy load of pretending everything was fine? If the “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” face we put on when get out of the car and walk through the parking lot wasn’t needed, wouldn’t your step be a little lighter?

Do you want to know what is attractive to this world? Having real hope in the midst of the same trials and tribulations everyone on the planet shares. Being honest about what a life trying to follow Jesus looks like. Cavities, warts, confusion, chemical imbalances and all.

When we show that to those who are watching, then they might just listen to what we are saying.

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4 Responses to ““Fellow Losers…” Real Honesty In A Used-Car-Salesman World”

  1. wdennisgriffith Says:

    Francis Schaeffer wrote:

    “Christianity demands that we have enough compassion to learn the questions of our generation. The trouble with too many of us is that we want to be able to answer these questions instantly, as though we could take a funnel, put it in one ear and pour in the facts, and then go out and regurgitate them and win all the discussions. It cannot be. Answering questions is hard work. Can you answer all the questions? No, but you must try. Begin to listen with compassion. Ask what this man’s questions really are and try to answer. And if you don’t know the answer, try to go someplace or read and study to find the answer.”

    This seems to be another dimension to what you are talking about. Don’t you think?

  2. seaton garrett Says:

    Yeah, I do think it’s another dimension of what I’m talking about. I find that Francis Schaeffer tends to add multiple dimensions to what I’m saying most of the time.

    The first question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do I have the compassion he says Christianity demands?” Most apologetics “discussions” I’ve heard are more about winning than honestly listening to someone with compassion, trying to discover what is really behind the questions. Too often we approach people with that mindset. I’ve got to win. Or to switch metaphors, make a sale, and if I can overcome this persons objections they’ll buy what I’m selling. This kind of consumer mentality seems to be a pretty typical evangelical attitude. It turns people into numbers, or targets, or projects. Am I way off base here?

    I’m glad Schaeffer says “learn the questions of our generation”, not “learn what answers our generation wants to hear”. But my observation, for whatever it’s worth, is that that’s what we do by and large, try and figure out what they want to hear. He’s right, answering questions is hard work. I just think we’re trying to answer the wrong ones.

    This would be something good to talk about. What do you think are the questions our generation is asking?

    The next thing it makes me think is how uncomfortable we are with mystery. We tend to think that “I don’t know” is a sign of stupidity and weakness. As he says, there are questions that cannot be answered, although many act as if that’s not true. Some doctrinal systems are worse than others about this, and some fall off the into the ditch of anti-intellectualism on the other side of the road. Study to find the answers, study hard, but also leave room for mystery.

  3. Rob Scott Says:

    Seaton, your blog contains entirely too much honesty. If you really want to be more widely read, you need to rant belligerently about your strongly held opinions. C’mon, get with the times! Sheesh.

  4. seaton garrett Says:

    Rob! Good to hear from you. Hope everyone at your house is fine.

    I’m not sure I have too many strongly held opinions anymore, and ranting belligerently just gives me a headache. As for getting with the times, can I do that while I listen to my 8-tracks?

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