A little while ago a friend recommended The Shack to me.
It’s a book that was written a few years ago now.
I recently finished it and am thinking that I need to do some thinking.
So here are some thoughts.
First, if you get a chance to read it I wholeheartedly recommend it.
It’s a work of fiction.
The main characters are a man, Mack, his family, a few of his friends and God.
On a camping trip Mack’s daughter is abducted and murdered. Her blood is discovered at The Shack.
This event marks the beginning of Mack’s Great Sadness.
For him The Shack comes to embody a whole lot of bad stuff. Anger at himself. At God. At life. Almost all that is bad.
Then one day Mack receives a letter from God. It’s an invitation to meet up at The Shack
And so Mack spends a few days with God – Father (Papa), Son, (Jesus) and Holy Spirit (Sarayu) - at The Shack. The place of his Great Sadness.
And his life is changed forever.
Although The Shack is a work of fiction the words “spoken” by God are intended to reflect the person, character and intentions of God. So it’s intended to be more than fiction. It’s a sort of picture of the author’s view of the kind of Person that God is and the kind of relationship that God wants to have with people.
I found the book to be very moving. Tears running down my cheeks type of moving.
Whilst reading it … and now having read it … I’m left wondering.
Is God really like that?
Is it true that people can be friends with God like that?
There was a time that I became a Christian. March 3rd 1973 at 144, Forest Road, Loughborough in Leicestershire.
So, in some ways, The Shack didn’t say much to me that I hadn’t been aware of at some point in the past.
And yet there are new thoughts. New interpretations of things. An emphasis on relationships. On being rather than doing. Love rather than judgement.
It stirs inside me a kind of a longing. A wishing that it could be true.
Over the past few days I’ve been doing some thinking about that.
I wonder … if God is really like that, then how come so few people know? Why is it such a big secret?
The Shack did top the best sellers’ lists for a while. So in a way it isn’t a secret at all.
So I wonder why so few people believe that God is like that. And why it is that I struggle to believe that God is like that even though I wish the He were.
Here the beginning of some of the things that I have problems with.
At this very moment the main thing is about why does God hide the truth about Himself from people the way that He seems to do. Why is it so difficult to know what the truth is?
There are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses … the list goes on. And there are lots of different brands of Christianity, of Islam … and so it goes on and on and on.
And then taking Christianity as an example.
Many Christians believe in heaven and hell. That people who don’t give their lives to Jesus end up in hell. For ever. That hell is a place of eternal punishment and torment. Everyone deserves to go to hell. It’s divine justice. Yet it’s easy to avoid hell. Just believe in Jesus. Divine grace.
Oh but … you might also need to not be gay – or at least not practicing gay. Or transgendered. You might also need to be a Catholic. Or is that a protestant? Or to be baptised. You might need to read only a particular translation of the Bible. Or believe the apostle’s creed.
Or maybe you need to be a Muslim?
There’s a sense in which maybe a lot of the above might not matter. Maybe you do only need to believe in Jesus … although that should probably be … believe in, trust in and rely on.
But if that’s the case … why so much disinformation and confusion. Lots of apparently very sincere and well-meaning people seem to disagree over all of this.
If any of this stuff makes the difference between heaven for ever and hell for ever and it affects everyone, then why is it so difficult to work out what the actual truth is?
So, OK, why am I asking these questions? And honestly, there are a lot more to be asked.
I think it’s because I’d like to know the answers.
So if you know them … I’m listening.
There will likely be more questions to follow.