Fight Club: A Cautionary Tale

Recently, my film adaption class studied Fight Club and for my final paper, I wrote about how the world that Chuck Palahniuk depicts in his novel is a Biblical take on American culture. If you haven’t seen Fight Club, my essay might be confusing. (It also spoils the movie.) I recommend watching it if you haven’t before or rewatching it if you don’t remember the themes. I didn’t realize how layered it was until I saw it a second time. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy it!


Fight Club Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Giving Up)

David Fincher’s Fight Club explores the depravity and internal hopelessness of man’s nature with themes of idolatry, control, and purpose through a narrative that resembles the Christian worldview. There are several allusions to the Bible throughout the film and novel alike. Chuck Palahniuk wrote an extremely anti-humanitarian story, depicting the fallenness of man.

However, he seems to mock the concept that mankind can be redeemed, making the statement that Tyler Durden, a Jesus-like figure, is only a figment of the narrator’s imagination and an extension of who he wishes he could be. Palahniuk’s novel could be called a cautionary tale for people who strive for more in life than the mundane, but depend on themselves as a solution.

While it is a negative portrayal of humanity, Fight Club displays a multitude of truths, providing social commentary and insight to our quest for purpose. Palahniuk writes about how our longing for more than indoor lives can lead us to focus heavily on ourselves, contrasting man’s search for identity with man’s search for God. The film ends with an honest realization in the narrator’s “giving up” that American culture denies in self-help books and an emphasis on therapy: we can’t save ourselves from ourselves.

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The unnamed narrator exchanges his life of comfort offered to him in materialism for a newfound god in his ideal self, Tyler Durden. It is ironic that the narrator’s personal idol is a subject of his idolatry, and that Tyler and him turn out to be the same person. He has been looking to himself for answers all along, indicating a reason why he hasn’t found any new, long-lasting solutions to living a worthy life. The narrator doesn’t want to risk anything, and decides to trust in himself, hence the line “in Tyler we trust,” clearly replacing God with his alter ego.

In the end, the narrator must surrender and give up his life regardless of what he has built in fight club, realizing he can’t even trust himself as he watches how his actions have destroyed everything around him, literally.

In the film, Tyler says, “Self-improvement is masturbation. Now, self-destruction…” According to him, trying to be a better person is purely an act of ego, a way to show people how polite or caring you can be, almost as a way to outshine others. It’s a different kind of fight club. The Protestant view of Christianity believes that good works can’t offer salvation or holiness because our sinfulness against God is too great. Overlapping with the Biblical truth that no one can be purely good, Tyler knows that it is an impossible task to become a perfect person. It’s an insincere and self-gratifying waste of time as seen in the stories about the pharisees.

However, self-destruction as an effort to discover the truth of someone’s heart is honorable and brave, because the answer as we learn later on is discomforting and grim. “Tyler says I’m nowhere near hitting the bottom, yet. And if I don’t fall all the way, I can’t be saved. Jesus did it with his crucifixion thing” (Palahniuk, 70). This “hitting the bottom” would be the narrator facing the uncomfortable answer that we are sinful and can’t work towards salvation. Until the narrator understands this truth, he can’t be “free” as he goes onto say. To do so, he first has to leave the things he cherishes, such as the furniture he’s bought overtime from the Ikea catalogues. He must abandon the life he had so that he can grow into something greater than he’s known, an idea similar to what Jesus tells those who want to follow him in the Bible. As it is written in Matthew 16:24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

In order for Tyler to become truer to who he really is, he has to sacrifice a life that he realizes isn’t heading anywhere. This isn’t much to be asked of him since his apartment blew up and everything he’s known is no longer in existence.

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Given no choice but to leave the ashes of his old self behind, the narrator moves into Tyler’s place, an abandoned house with rotting walls and weak floorboards. His new home is symbolic of who he is at heart, representing the narrator’s growth. Accepting the reality of man’s nature is the first step to finding meaning in it. This could also be applied to a person’s conversion to Christianity. In any paradigm shift, a realization about the world acts as a foundation for more knowledge to be built upon. Many testimonies of faith begin with a belief that the world is broken and can’t help itself in becoming better. As Tyler says, “‘It’s only after you’ve lost everything… That you’re free to do anything’” (70). We’re given freedom when we aren’t attached to the things we put too much worth in that consequently harm us. This truth is also seen in scripture as those who follow Jesus are told to abandon the lives they previously had, leaving distractions and idols in the past.

Tyler’s removal of identities from those in fight club by collecting driver licenses parallels Jesus renaming his disciples following their conversions. In the Bible, Simon is renamed to Peter and Saul is renamed to Paul. This theme of rebirth is evident throughout Fight Club, as the nameless narrator, who is given a name in the end, talks about death and the resurrection. The death of Christ on the cross represents a renewal of those who believe in him, releasing them from the blinding confines of sin and doubt. This is how Christians are given new identities, and similarly do those who join fight club break away from their old lifestyles.

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Conversion in Fight Club is also seen in “waking up.” Early on in the film, the narrator asks himself, “If you wake up at a different time in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?” The narrator is caught between living and dying as he struggles with insomnia. Once he gets past his problem of going to sleep, he begins to take ahold of his life. He has woken up from a life without ambition and not long after, he becomes Tyler Durden.

Just as followers of Christ are told to set an example and represent their faith in the world, Tyler sends members of fight club on missions in Project Mayhem to make a difference in society. As a way to “save the world,” they have to destroy it, much like they have destroyed themselves, to reveal humanity for what it truly is. Christian evangelism is unlike other religions’ evangelism as it doesn’t intend to convert people, but instead to “plant a seed” of the gospel in the minds of others. It isn’t to make new Christians, but to bring an awareness of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Project Mayhem intends to do something similar in revolutionizing the world by changing our view of it.

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At this time in the film, Tyler has vanished and rumors of what happened to him have spread. The narrator searches for Tyler and while traveling notices there are more fight clubs forming with the legend of Tyler being passed on. The good news of Tyler Durden and fight club is being told to the nations, just as Christianity spread after the resurrection of Jesus.

It could be interpreted that beneath the narrator’s search for meaning is a pursuit of happiness. The American dream doesn’t hold up in his worldview, and he is looking for something that fulfills the void he has experienced in Ikea catalogues and 9-5 workdays. The narrator recognizes his need for a new narrative that defies the one the culture abides by. The inclusion of faith throughout Fight Club makes sense as Christianity offers answers accompanied by peace to those who believe, both of which the narrator is chasing after.

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C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “All that we call human history — money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery — is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” The narrator’s lack of happiness in his materialism fits with his disregard of faith. He abuses the church’s support groups by attending them so that he can be relieved of a burden.

His attempts to control his life can be traced back to how he lives in constant criticism of the world. It isn’t until he is told to “let go” by Tyler that he experiences contentment. By letting go, he sees things for what they are, not what he assumed they were out of an arrogant angst.

In the narrator’s death, he is humbled as he lays down the pride he was clinging to. It is much like a deathbed conversion when a person begins to understand the implications of dying and has no choice but to accept the very thing they had rejected throughout their life: faith — a worldview that requires people to rely on something apart from themselves.

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Providence > Coincidence

Yesterday, I saw two Moonie cult members evangelize to a girl on campus for about ten minutes, so I prayed they would hear the truth. I recently told myself that if I ever saw them talking to someone and they traded numbers, I would go and warn that person about their beliefs. After she walked away, I went over to her and asked what they were talking about so I could explain who they were. This was my first time going up to anyone afterwards, and it turned out I recognized her. I hadn’t spoken to her before, but I knew her face from church. It was crazy because I’ve never met anyone from church who goes to my college. It’s more than a thirty minute drive from campus. I asked her what she was talking about with them, because I was worried they were getting through to someone. She said she was sharing the gospel.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

-Isaiah 40:8

God transcends what we call “coincidence.” He is always at work. His providence and sovereignty is never-ending.

As I write this, I’m sitting outside a coffee shop in LA. Earlier, a guy came over to me because he saw me reading my Bible, and it turned out he’s involved with a church I heard about that just started nearby. He also knew some people who go to the church I attend. God has been doing this to me a lot lately. Friends from classes have had genuine faith. A group project meeting turned into a discussion about Christianity and God after a girl mentioned she had a Bible study that night. A favorite teacher of mine from middle school has expressed interest in my Facebook posts about Christ.

Glory be to God in the highest.

“In friendship, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another… the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting — any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.”

-C. S. Lewis

Love and Apathy

A friend and I used to talk often about how we thought the opposite of love is indifference and not hate. For someone to be resentful of another person, they must’ve first loved or cared enough to get to that point. I recently realized “indifference” is a polite way of saying it. The opposite of love is apathy. The reverse of caring is not caring. A hard heart contrasts a compassionate one.

“Did I hate him, then? Indeed, I believe so. A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.”
-C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

We become apathetic when we forget. We get so used to the things that excite us that they lose their value. Apathy can be inevitable, unless you don’t focus too much on the wrong things. If we keep our minds on what we’ve been promised, we will never forget the coming reward that is greater than anything the world can offer. We will never lose our hope if we are reminded of an eternal joy that radically outweighs temporary happiness.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 3:14

Idolizing Life

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My Tumblr’s archive is full of aspects of living that I’ve put more worth in than I should have.

One of the biggest idols in our culture is the same one that’s easiest to justify. People tend to recognize the cost of putting too much value in the wrong things like their appearance or a relationship, but what we often emphasize above everything is life itself.

We think it’s okay to put such importance into living adventurously, because shouldn’t we take advantage of our opportunities and live the most satisfying life we can?

Even subliminally, we think it’s okay to put so much value in how we live. This is a reflection of an exaggerated self-worth. We’re told that we’re entitled to experience something more than “the simple life.” The world tells us that we deserve more than the mundane.

But if we put so much importance in our experiences, we’re basically saying that the point of life is simply to enjoy life.

According to this way of thinking, life has to make you happy for it to be worth enduring. In order for our time to matter, life has to look like a movie. You have to be active as the main character and everything that happens has to impact you in some way. We have to be in control and affect other people because otherwise our efforts are meaningless.

By putting our lives on this scale, we devalue ourselves while losing our authenticity. We don’t need to live up to these standards. If we don’t have the career we went to school for in a decade, it’s okay. In the end, our jobs and our accomplishments don’t define us and neither do our shortcomings or our limitations.

Living is about more than succeeding like the hero at the end of a story. Life is more than a character arc.

I am grateful to live for God and not for myself. I am thankful that by His grace, He stood in our place. Through believing in Jesus, I have been redefined by Him.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

-Proverbs 19:21

I remember the discouragement I felt in my freshman year of high school when a faculty member gave a presentation on the universities everyone would be going to after graduation. “You only live once, so you have to make this matter,” she said to the class. Knowing that I would eventually go to community college, I couldn’t look forward to living in a dorm room or a college town.

When I started going to PCC, I couldn’t help but be envious of everyone who had been posting sentimental statuses about moving away for school. I had lost out on an experience that I was told I was entitled to.

Except, I wasn’t entitled to the “university experience” any more than I was entitled to the “community college experience.” (Yes, we’re all entitled to an education, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)

After I realized that we don’t have to rely on our stories to define us, I started to understand that I don’t have to feel loss for not attending a university right after high school. Life isn’t about our experiences. It’s about the One who gives us experiences.

In Him, disappointments lose credibility.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

-Romans 8:28

The devil’s greatest temptation is in trying to convince us that we’ve missed out on something good, which can lead us to doubting the goodness of God. He wants us to doubt the character of the One who gives us meaning. Satan wants us to forfeit our purpose.

This is exactly what happened in the garden when Adam and Eve didn’t understand why God restricted them of the tree. The serpent questioned what God had said, and caused them to doubt His goodness. From their perspective, it seemed like God had withheld something good. The devil made Adam and Eve doubt the love and the trustworthiness of their Father who made them.

Instead of choosing and listening to their Creator, they abused creation by taking fruit from the forbidden tree. We do this when we choose our own way of living and trust our own judgement instead of choosing God and listening to what He wants for us.

If a friend bought an AMC gift card and gave it to you to hold onto so you could watch a movie together, it’s implied they want to hang out. It only makes sense that you use the gift card with them, and it’s hoped that your intent is to be with them more than it is to just watch a movie.

God wants us to enjoy life, but not apart from Him and not more than Him. We’ve all neglected His grace, but there is no true, long-lasting happiness that can be found without Christ. Our attempts at finding satisfaction or meaning in the world can never compare to the kingdom we have been brought into.

Not too long ago, one of my friends sent me a quote from the testimony of a former atheist in The Reason for God.

“While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook, ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. And so I became a believer in Christ.”

Relying on God

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(Like I rely on my glasses.)

I’ve been reading Mark lately, and this morning I read the two passages where Jesus says, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (10:13-16) and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (17-31).

I hadn’t read them both in one sitting before and I can’t remember hearing them preached together. I didn’t realize they go hand in hand.

After Jesus says that you must receive the kingdom like a child, there is an example that follows. A “rich young man” decides to keep the kingdom he’s built for himself rather than give it up as Jesus asks of him. The man wants to keep what he knows instead of trading it for something he’s simply told is better. He doesn’t trust that Christ, that love, is worth it.

I grew up being taught that “receiving the kingdom like a child” refers to child-like faith, and is a simple, almost naive, unquestioning acceptance of the gospel, and there is some truth in that. However, in these verses about the rich man who’s self-dependent, a straightforward acceptance of the gospel isn’t all we’re being shown. It’s a reliance on God.

When I read passages about sin or lostness, I look for a connection between them and the forbidden tree in the garden. The thing that causes the rich man to not follow Jesus is the sacrifice of his money and possessions because he idolizes what he owns, but it goes deeper than that. His need for these things derives from a pride and independence. He won’t rely on Jesus because he thinks he can rely on himself.

When Adam and Eve decided to pick fruit from the tree they were told not to go to, it was the result of their own discernment. Instead of trusting God, they trusted themselves and depended on their own judgement to guide them. They didn’t think they needed a father.

To receive the kingdom like a child is to rely on God wholeheartedly. As a child depends on their parents for a home and their meals, we are told to trust and depend on our creator in everything. The kingdom will be inherited by those who accept that they need Christ.

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these (the Ten Commandments) I have kept from my youth.”And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:20-22)

I’m not sure if the man actually knows he hasn’t kept all the commandments perfectly when he says he has, but either way, Jesus looks at him and loves him by continuing to offer the man a way to heaven. It’s an especially powerful detail if the man is intentionally lying to Jesus, because even in the moment he’s being dishonest, he’s still given grace.

After the rich man leaves, Jesus says to those around him that it’s easier for a “camel to go through the eye of a needle” than for a man who values the things of the world to follow him. To this, they ask, “Then who will be saved?” Jesus wants them to ask this, and replies, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

We’re like children, we can’t save ourselves. He has to do it for us, and he does.

This is foreshadowing what Jesus will do to pay the price of our turning against God throughout our lives. None of us have ever relied on God as we should. He’s loved us but we’ve done everything but love Him in return. We are given this ability to know and be forgiven by Him through the Son’s death on the cross.

Being “saved” or being “reborn” is the result of a person seeing and taking in the truth, and being changed by it. Regeneration is leaving the things you idolize and give an extreme amount of worth to for the only One who should have such value. Like Tim Keller has said, the solution to idolatry is “putting your loves in the right order.” It wouldn’t be right for a workaholic to put their job before their family.

In every testimony, there’s a decision made between Christ and pride. In this story, that pride came from the man’s wealth. If he followed Jesus, he would have forfeited himself and gained Christ in the process, receiving the kingdom like a child in becoming dependent on his Father.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (10:29-31)

American Law v. Gospel Law

Last week, I spent Friday morning at Intelligentsia Coffee in Pasadena where I wrote an opinion piece on the Kim Davis case for my school paper which can be read after the page break. I had chosen to write the “pro” article, in favor of her stance as a county clerk who didn’t assign marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her faith. The story annoyed me as it was referenced frequently in my newsfeed. I purposely ignored headlines with Davis’ name because the motivations from the two sides seemed misguided. Both those who have supported her and those who have opposed her remind me of the point made by Hank Green in this video I came across while writing that morning.

Davis is an Apostolic Christian, meaning she holds to strict traditions, only wearing dresses, restraining from makeup, and not cutting her hair. Usually, Apostolic Christianity keeps away from entertainment, too. She would likely be against the way most Christians today carry themselves.

I don’t agree with how Davis handled the situation at hand. She wasn’t gracious in her stance, representing her faith by turning personal conviction into national scandal. Instead of genuinely representing Christ, she represented an Apostolic approach to modern society and went against the duty given to her by the government, when she could have declined accepting this responsibility earlier on when it became a part of her job.

Rather than justifying her actions, the article I wrote focuses on what she believes and how people responded.

“You say, ‘I don’t like what’s going on in my country.’ Neither does God. And he will determine the form of government that suits his purposes for a country that has turned its back on him.” -John MacArthur



America has made a hypocritical error in the case against Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, who recently refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The nation has responded with animosity toward Davis, telling her she should either resign or turn against her faith by permitting licenses. As the result of overlapping laws, Davis was imprisoned for six days. Through the controversy, the first and tenth amendments were compromised in the name of marriage.

Many have accused Davis of being hateful, which contradicts her Christian faith she has stood by. “Freedom” in Christianity has never meant to live the life one wants to live, but to live in accordance with the Gospel. The Christian life is one of struggle, as it involves standing up for what is believed in the face of adversity. When put in perspective, would it not have been easier for Davis to issue a marriage license and ignore her faith? Evidently, her stance has not been out of hate for same-sex couples, but out of love and loyalty for her God. She knew that this could cause controversy and persecution, but she decided to go through it because it was worth the cost.

The apostle Paul, who was imprisoned unjustly several times throughout his life for being a Christian, eventually giving his life for his faith, wrote in his letter to the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The Bible is offensive. This is a fact that Christians support. It is often in life that what is believed to be the truth can contradict what we would prefer to be the truth. In the church, it is accepted that the Gospel is not meant purely as a means of comfort, but of justice.

“You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul,” Davis said to the judge prior being escorted out of court by a federal marshal.

Of course, the Davis controversy is not merely a matter of motivations, but fairness. To the world, it would not be fair for her to impose her faith. To her, it would not be fair for the world to impose on her faith.

“We want a pagan society to respect our sentimental religiosity, and that is not going to happen any time soon,” wrote Douglas Wilson, a Christian blogger, in response to the court’s ruling for her imprisonment.

In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar allowed those he ruled over to practice their own religions as long as they first bowed to a golden statue he created. The idol of the nation is not simply justice, but man-made freedom.

Christopher Ciccone, openly gay brother of Madonna, wrote a Facebook post in defense of Davis:

“Is it so difficult to allow this woman her religion? Or must we destroy her in order for her to betray her faith, no matter how we judge its truth? The rights we have all fought for, mean nothing, if we deny her hers.”

When laws overlap each other, reasoning begins to cave in on itself. Whether one agrees with her or not, Davis has brought attention to something that needs to be brought attention to: how should the government respond to those it employs when law goes against faith?

To Want What He Wants

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Lately, I’ve noticed churches promoting the idea that we live for each other; that we are given our gifts because we are meant to encourage people with them. There’s truth to this (1 Peter 4:10) but using our gifts for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ is not the foundation of our faith. Some say we’re supposed to want for others so they might be content, but the groundwork for Christianity is not simply to put others’ needs before our own. It’s to love God, even before our friends and ourselves. If this sounds off-putting, then you know that it’s probably because there’s a reality to this statement. Living in a humanitarian culture, it used to sound a little strange to me, too.

Everything is meant to be done through our love for Him. There have been times when I’ve become exhausted because my care for others was rooted in a self-reliant attitude. We act independent as if we’re trying to prove something to ourselves. (I wonder why we would need to prove to ourselves so often that we’re self-reliant?) Not that caring for others through Christ wouldn’t wear on us, but when we have God in mind and in heart, we are given a peace in Him.

Praising those around us is not the fundamental way to praise Him. Helping a friend move from an apartment to a house or keeping a person in prayer isn’t entirely for that person.

It’s for God. Not only is it for Him, but it is because of Him.

He wants us to want the same as He does, and this is where humanitarian Christianity tends to become confused. It says to act for others, rather than acting for Him. It’s difficult for us to set this in our minds and live by it. We’re used to thoughtless care, and we’re told that’s what we should aspire to. This is a hollow love that compliments who we are, instead of a passionate love that recognizes who God is.

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Peter didn’t shout, “For Lucy, Susan, and Edmund!” at the beginning of the battle against the White Witch’s army. He fought in Aslan’s name, because Aslan was the king, and Narnia was under his protection. It was for the good of his creatures, not Peter’s brother and sisters.

I realize most that we live for Him when marriage and family is brought up in the Bible. The purpose is to grow His Kingdom, because He wants us to know Him. Being able to have a family is a gift, but the real reason we can have all that we have is to glorify Him. How could something ever be good for us if it is not first good for Him?

We are given gifts to serve Him. We misuse them, as He knows we will, but God gives them to us anyway. It’s grace upon grace.

To want what God wants demands our feelings and biased interpretations to be put away. God commands us to live as the new self for Him, instead of the old self for us. He doesn’t only tell us to put what we want for ourselves to the side, but sometimes what we want for others. A lot of the time, it is only God who can give others what they need, and not us. When we realize we can’t live as self-dependent people in caring for others, we’re humbled by His care for us. Encouraging and loving on those we care for isn’t the purpose of our lives. It’s to glorify Him.

It’s easier to understand this relationship of sacrifice when you think of a romance. When seeing that we should desire what He desires instead of what we want, pity is pointless. Some people might feel sorry for somebody if they didn’t pursue a relationship with someone they liked because this other person was without Christ. To understand the true act of love it would be for someone to put God before themselves, it would be admired, not pitied.

God asks for us to give up what takes us from Him, because He wants to love us, and for us to love Him. No one would pity a husband for giving up something that distracts him from his wife, for his wife.

“Don’t get in touch with your feelings, submit radically to God, and do what is right no matter what. Put your love life on the altar and keep it there until God takes it off. Suffering is normal. Have you no scars, no wounds, with Jesus on the Calvary road?” -John Piper

Wanting what He wants goes above everything we could ever desire, whether it be rooted in our love for someone, or if it’s something that’s wanted for us by another.

My Dad would talk about “tough love” when I was younger, as being the type of care that a parent has in disciplining their child. “Tough love” is a good way to describe God’s sovereignty.

The lyrics of a song called Gold In Them Hills say, “Sometimes it’s a case of cruel to be kind.”

If God gave us what we wanted, it would often worsen us. We would lean on temporary things, and reduce our satisfactions to things below us rather than that which is above. But He wants what is best for us, even if He pains for us as we endure suffering that brings us closer to Him. It’s grace.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” -C. S. Lewis

Our Creator is making us better in His image. He’s letting us remember where we are, what’s to come, and who He is. When He does give us what we ask for, we praise Him. When He gives us what He wants, we have even more reason to be thankful.

“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:35-36)

Life Humbles Us

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When I was a child, there was a time when I thought Christianity was a selfish faith. Not selfish in believers, but in who God is. I knew it was never about Adam or Eve. It was never about anyone, except God. It was about Christ. It was what God wanted for us and for Himself, not what we wanted for Him or for ourselves. We take offense at this, because we think we are good. We think we are sufficient on our own and that we deserve more when we turn from the Cross, but that contradicts worship. (See last post!)

It is easy to forget why we worship. Yes, because we have been saved by Christ. Except, it’s more than that. We were saved by Christ because God is good. We worship because God is greater than we realize. This is a common disconnect for both believers and non-believers. Believers can struggle with knowing how good God is. There is a lack of understanding and relatability because the truth is, we are not good. We delude ourselves into thinking we are worth something without Christ. Without God, we are just humans, but not Christians. We make up lifestyles that go against the reality of our design. We do what we want. We neglect that we were made in His image. We do not understand our sin because we live in it. We think we’re justified in everything we do. We put our judgement above His commands.

It isn’t often we realize we’re wrong for doing something until we look back at having done it. At that point, we can disassociate ourselves from our actions. “I’d never do that now.” It’s as if we are more relevant today than we were then. We grow with time, so there’s some obvious truth to that. That’s why we have a better perspective and can say we once did something wrong.

But we still did something out of accordance in what He wants for us. We’ve been humbled, and now we’ve grown. We start to realize that we can be wrong. We aren’t as great as we thought. We’re growing.

Everyone’s house has a smell. When you go to a friend’s home, you might pick up on it. You might think it’s musty and that they should open the windows to circulate air. But will the friend realize they should do this? They won’t, because they live there. They’re used to the ora of their home. It’s normal to them, just as sin is normal to us. (They’ll probably hold offense to being told their house smells, and will specifically not open the windows because of the offense… Even if they realize it does smell bad.)

Life is humbling. We think we’re always right, but that’s not true. Perspective is not immediate. Perspective cannot be rushed.

Emphasizing on the anti-climatic, down points of life makes a person better. A writer does not put their characters through hardships for them to remain the same, or for them to get worse than they already are. A writer makes their characters better, molding them to fit their personal ideals of what a person should be, by putting them through a a series of events, a journey. This has been done to us. Everything is for the good of the believer, and then must be for God’s glory.

In a culture where everyone is right all the time about everything, humility has been lost. We are told to not correct ourselves. To accept who we are, as we are. When looking for a relationship, we’re told to find someone who doesn’t want us to be any different than we are. We emphasize acceptance, and open-mindedness, but we go against what we say. We say we’re fine as we are. “Never change.” I don’t trust staying the same forever.

“I’m not an advocate of ‘self-acceptance’ in the way it’s culturally marketed. I think it’s good for our egos to get shaken up, and when they do, instead of ignoring the toxicity that flares up within us, invite God to extract the poison of your brokenness, and experience the joy of self-growth – something far more beautiful than mere acceptance.”

—LB, The Guts & Glory of Grace

I only trust people who know that they have never been as great as they once thought they were, and know they still aren’t even what they now consider to be great. I’m posting this, knowing I might regret it, either after a day after, or a year after. (That feeling isn’t foreign. I used the internet more than I should’ve when I was younger.)

I’m going to go back to what I was saying earlier. While we have wronged ourselves in our actions, we have also wronged God. In misusing life, we have taken advantage of the One who gave us life. We have been given a purpose, and we don’t even want it. We have been told the point of living, and we hate it. We hate that we are not meant to live for ourselves. But it’s true. That’s why Christians are Christians. As a friend recently said, church is offensive, but people come back because they don’t have a choice in what the truth is. And when seeing what is true, love also comes.

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

The truest humility comes from the truest truth, and growing to love Him.

We are not our own, but who we belong to, is good.

-Timothy

The U Key Is Broken

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It’s been broken for months. I force it to stay in its place on my keyboard, and it wiggles like a lose tooth. The key detached itself, having been used for a few years since the day I bought my MacBook. But why was it the U key? I don’t use “U” as often as I might use “E.” Isn’t that odd? Why did the U key break?

I think it’s symbolic. Only I would look at it with symbolic value, and we’re given our interpretations for a reason. The U key is broken. The U key broke off. It detached itself. “You are broken.” I detached myself. I am broken.

I’m tempted to buy a new computer because all the keys need cleaning, and there’s a few scratches on the shell, but I can’t buy a new laptop.

It costs a lot to have all of these things fixed. Ironically, I can’t do this, because like the U key, I’m broke. I can’t afford any of these things, and I don’t have the skill set to fix my computer on my own. (Parallel to how a person cannot buy themselves a life without brokenness…)

One of the most biblical “unbiblical” ideas in our culture is the belief that everything happens for a reason. For the believer, this is especially true. (Romans 8:28) Why are we given struggles? Why are all things for the good of the believer?

It is because this life is not only for us. This life is hardly ours. We are not our own. We live for God. For the good of the believer can be for the closeness to Christ, which is also for the glory of God. This is the Christian faith. This is what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We live this life with the next in mind. We live life because Christ gave us Himself. We live for God’s glory.

Why do we need Him? Because we are broken. It is our nature to be broken. It is our purpose to need Him. The person who doesn’t believe may not understand, because how can a person see what they need when they don’t know why they’re in need?

The Christian faith is the most offensive, because the Bible tells us we aren’t able on our own. It not only tells us we aren’t capable, but that there is something wrong with us, and we can’t even do anything to fix it. Having faith in a Savior means you understand the need to be saved.

It’s not possible to go through life without hardships. It is impossible to go without having grown through trial. And this is why we face challenges. We are not given our stories because God knows we can handle them. This is a lie I believed when I was younger. It was self-sufficient.

But the Christian faith is not self-sufficient. We are not able. We are given things that we cannot handle alone. We cannot work toward perfection. We cannot earn salvation. It has already been given to us. It is not a transaction on our part, because we have been paid for.

I’ve been focusing on self-sufficiency lately, and how endless it is. It goes nowhere.

In my second semester of college, I looked for Christian community, and it brought me to finding an on-campus fellowship. I decided to meet with the young man leading the fellowship for Bible studies on our own. I discovered as our meetings continued that he thought salvation could be earned. Faith wasn’t enough, and to be saved, you had to evangelize and get baptized. To him, this is how you become reborn. This definition of a Christian is wrong. A Christian is not someone saved simply by following Christ in imitating His attitude, as we will all fall into sin at one point or another. A Christian is someone who knows Christ and is saved by what He has done. Through this, we follow Him.

The confusion stems from the word “follow.” It is easy to apply “What Would Jesus Do?” throughout the day. But this is not how we are saved. WWJD is not Christianity. God does not tell us to earn our salvation by working for Him. Instead, we are told to believe (this is the foundation) and glorify through all we do, but it is not the doing that saves us.

It is the glorifying. It is the loving. It is the heart (in Christ). It is the mind (in Christ). It is the soul (in Christ). It is the strength (in Christ). It’s internal, but what goes on inside someone tends to be reflected on the outside.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The fruit is of love. It is love because we have been loved. We called to Him because He first called to us. We do not have to earn anything. The “cost to being a Christian,” a topic that one of the Bible studies was based on, is non-existent. We are saved by grace. We are given love. He knows we are not able. He knows we cannot live on our own.

And His response is love.

His response is, “Then don’t live for the things that can break you. Live for the One who let Himself be broken for you.”

We are to have freedom through Him. If we sin, we are forgiven. It is by accepting this love that we are followers of Christ. We are not simply supposed to be mimickers, but believers. As people who know God, we are meant to love Him in return. We are meant to dedicate our lives to him with the fruit we are given.

The act of reading our Bibles does not help our salvation, but the desire to listen and what we gain from Scripture is pure. The act of sharing the Gospel does not make us Christians, but the desire to tell others about our Savior is rightful. It is by these things that we show our dependency on Him. In this, He is glorified. But we do not rely on works. We rely on Him.

In the world today, self-dependency means freedom and independence.

But we have forgotten, to be separated from the Word would be no freedom at all. If we are given truth and choose to live without it, then we are holding ourselves back from what is real. To live without the Gospel would be like going to school but not attending any classes. It would be like a well-informed, registered voter choosing not to take part in an election.

The point of life is lost without Christ.

And we are not able on our own.

-Timothy