Such an Inner Strength

Yesterday, I listened to the latest sermon at Holy Covenant UCC. As regular readers know, I’m a very progressive believer, hardly even calling myself a Christian. I tend to doubt God’s presence a lot. I mean, why is there so much suffering in the world when God is loving and ever present?

The pastor delivering the sermon said that Jesus could’ve had these same doubts while on the cross. Yet what seemed like God the Father abandoning His son was, according to the pastor, the greatest moment of all creation, as God opened the gates of Heaven.

One of the things I find hard to deal with in Christianity is the idea that only certain people will make it to Heaven. I mean, according to the Bible, only 144,000 people who ever existed will be allowed entry into the Kingdom of God. My husband uses this as one of his reasons for being an atheist. My former pastor at the psych hospital though said that this number may be symbolic: twelve times twelve times a thousand is a lot! I like that. Some other progressive Christians at one point told me that there’s a theological theory that says that all of Hell was shattered on the cross when Jesus died for our sins.

At first, when listening to the Holy Covenant UCC sermon, I felt weird. The pastor said that God had hidden his treasure in the plain and ordinary, that is, us. That had me go uhm. I somehow wish I was more than just an ordinary being and a sinner at that. Isn’t that a bit narcissistic of me?

Then the pastor went on to tell the church that we are more than our outward appearance. In other words, we are more than ordinary beings. Because of God, we each harbor a huge inner strength. A treasure. We are more than how we come across to others. We are also more than our experiences. We are more than the racism, sexism, ableism, etc. we endured. Through God, we can overcome the odds!

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for what is right. The pastor, who I assume is of color, talked about the great abolitionists and civil rights activists, who maintained their faith in the presence of immense hardship. They kept going despite opposition and oppression. That is what we should do. Don’t give up, but fight knowing that God is by our side. Ultimately, even if evil prospers right now, it will not always.

10 thoughts on “Such an Inner Strength

  1. I love this Astrid. Thankyou for posting it. I have heard all these ideas before, but I love the way that Pastor put it. I struggle with faith a lot too, and for the same reasons as you. And other things too. I so agree that Jesus doubted God too, on the Cross. But in the end He submitted to God. I used to preach, Astrid, and also have done theology degrees, but not for the qualifications, but because I am a deep questioner. So it is so nice to see this post. I am not exactly a conventional Christianeither. Shane we can’t get together and talk in person, Astrid. I loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Gosh Astrid. That is really interesting. I really did love your post. I have spent my life questioning and I guess I wilk continue that way until I die!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear, I’ve never heard anyone interpret the numbers in Bible so literally. Or no, actually I had, but only about Jehovah’s Witnesses doing so. Honestly it makes me laugh when I think of it. God would be seriously cruel and darn petty if he was like: “NO!!! You’re not coming in! You’re 144001, get out of here! Why did you even get in here in the first place? There aren’t any more rooms.” 😀 That would be seriously not worth it and I wouldn’t care about such God.
    In my view, of course this number of people is symbolical! I guess all numbers in the Bible are symbolical. I’ve once heard from my grandma what it means. I’m terrible with numbers so I hope I won’t mess something up here but it seems to go like this: 12 symbolises God’s people, as in the twelve tribes of Israel. 12 x 12 refers to the Kingdom of God. Then 12 x 12 x 10, and 10 symbolises something whole. And then you exponentiate this to the third, and three is related to the Holy Trinity so it also means something full. That’s all really complicated, at least for me, but in any case this can simply symbolise loads and loads and loads and loads of people.
    I think with the “plain and ordinary” the pastor could have meant sort of our position in comparison to God. Or perhaps that God particularly loves people with simple souls who are very humble and thus may appear very plain to the world. But I don’t think He sees us as plain and ordinary, because we are His children and each of us is exceptional for Him.
    Just thought I’d share my views on this, maybe it’ll help you somehow in your spiritual life but of course you don’t have to agree with me, different denominations believe differently these days and everyone has their own way to God, and I myself am quite far from progressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your encouraging words. Yes, my husband said the 144,000 people who’d make it to Heaven were thought to be the reincarnations of the original twelve tribes of Isreael, or something. I’m not sure I understand it correctly. I love to hear your views and I’m sure we’ll find some common ground even if we don’t agree on everything.

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      1. Yeah sure, I also think it’s better to focus on the common ground than the differences. 🙂
        I don’t know if there are some Christian denominations that believe in reincarnation, but the vast majority of Christians do not, so this sounds like a very interesting and surprising theory to me. I myself think the twelve tribes of Israel are also very symbolic and they symbolise people of God as a whole.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I probably misunderstood, since though there are groups that are Christian-based and believe in reincarnation (Unity, for example), I don’t think that’s what my husband meant. Anyways, these are such interesting thoughts and yes, we need to focus on our common ground.

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