The World’s a Mess. God Still Sees You.

by | Jan 8, 2021 | Research, Uncategorized | 34 comments

4 Truths About God Since the Attack on the Capitol
Merchandise is Here!

This week the world watched as America went crazy.

It actually broke my heart to see the nation that has been the shining light of democracy the world around have insurrectionists attempt a coup.

I have had the privilege of visiting so many moving American monuments about freedom and democracy; I mourned on Wednesday to see what was happening.

At Gettysburg

At the D-Day Monument with Katie: “We are determined that before the sun sets on our terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom….”

I don’t like getting political on this blog, but I hope we can all agree that, no matter one’s political leanings, what was done on Epiphany (how ironic!) was unconscionable.

The only thing making it worse was all the “Jesus Saves” signs they were carrying.

I’d like to share some quick lessons I’ve learned trying to process how things can go so wrong.

As I’ve shared on recent podcasts, and on the blog for the last year and a half, it’s been so disillusioning watching the evangelical church spread such dangerous and harmful messages about marriage, sex, and women. How can a group that I love get it so wrong?

Where is Jesus?

And as I push back, and try to get people to see the truth, I often get attacked. Or people do things that I can’t see Jesus ever doing or saying.

I know that’s what many people are reeling from right now, and here are a few things that have helped me process when my world appears to be falling apart:

1. Not everyone who says they’re a Christian is a Christian.

One of the big things I had trouble dealing with was, “how can people who know Jesus say such things or act in such a way?”

Why doesn’t God do something? Could God really be okay with this?

But as Rebecca reminds me frequently, “Just because people can quote the four spiritual laws does not mean that they’re Christian.” In fact, Jesus spoke very clearly that those who know Him will:

  • hear His voice and recognize His voice
  • love one another, and be primarily known by their love
  • bear good fruit

If someone is not loving; is bearing terrible fruit; is known as a judgmental person who wrecks everything he or she touches–it could be that he or she doesn’t know Christ at all.

And the Bible is clear that many in the last days will say, “Lord, Lord,” and Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, because I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23). Many people think they are following Christ when really they are following nothing of the sort.

To me, that’s actually a hopeful message.

2. Many are always speaking truth; but rarely are these people in power

If you wonder why those in power don’t “get” it, it’s likely because, as Rebecca and I discussed in yesterday’s podcast, there’s no real incentive for them to get it. There’s a reason that pressure to get rid of slavery; end the Salem witch trials; reform the church; fight pornography; fight child sex trafficking; feed the hungry; deal with abuse has come first from voices outside of power in the church. Christians will be fighting for all these things, but often they’re fighting the leaders in the church. And each time a victory is won, and the church becomes a little bit better, then a new institution is calcified. No institution, though, will ever be perfect; there are always changes that need to be made. But leaders, who have their power and jobs from things staying the way they are, are usually not the force for that change.

Leaders rarely do the right thing until they lose the people they are leading.

When the people turn against the leaders, then, and only then, does real change usually occur within the church. Until then, it tends to take place outside the church walls. Once people abandon the church in great numbers, then it becomes incumbent on leaders to change, and they do.

So if you’re dismayed that leaders aren’t leading, look outside of leadership. People are indeed leading the way. Look for them. You’ll find them. Join them.

I find the story of Elijah so interesting in this regard. Elijah has spent years calling out King Ahab and all the priests of the land. He’s been studying the leaders, wondering why they’re not following God, and driving himself crazy (almost literally) because of it. Even after the big showdown on Mount Carmel, when he called down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, while the priests of Baal accomplished nothing, and even after he had all kinds of priests executed, the leaders still weren’t listening to him. He felt like he was the only one.

So he went off in the wilderness, as the leaders of the day were out to get him, and he felt sorry for himself. God showed up, and talked to him, and made him many promises of what would happen. But this reassurance is very apt for today:

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.

1 Kings 19:18

Earlier Elijah had had this showdown with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. After he won that showdown, he had them all killed.

So he had been focusing on these 850 people, plus the king and queen, who were at the head of the country, and who had turned against God.

And then Elijah told God that he was all alone; he was the only one left.

God replied by telling him, “Actually, there are 7000 more that I have reserved.” 7000.

That’s almost 10 times as many as Elijah had seen killed.

They weren’t high powered. They weren’t visible. But they mattered. They believed. Elijah was not alone.

The halls of power may disappoint you. But perhaps we should stop looking at the halls of power, either in evangelicalism or in politics or wherever, and start looking for likeminded people, wherever they are, who are running after Jesus.

3. Tipping Points Happen Quickly

One of Malcolm Gladwell’s first big books was The Tipping Point. His question was, “how does something that has been present in culture, but has been largely ignored, suddenly become something that everyone knows about?” How does an idea, a product, a cultural moment become part of our consciousness?

I love that book from a social and a marketing point of view.

But it’s also a really good way to describe what’s been happening. There’s been a drip-drip-drip of scandal in the church for years. Sexual abuse. Power hungry pastors falling. Coverups. Everyday there’s a new headline.

But when does anything actually change?

What Gladwell showed was that when change finally happens, it tends to happen very, very quickly.

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.

I think these verses from Hebrews 12 describe what has been happening in so many arenas lately:

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”[f]

Hebrews 12:26-29

Everything is being shaken. And when things change, they will change quickly.

Do you feel like everything is accelerating? I do. That’s scary to live through, as what we have built many of our identities around is all falling down and crumbling around us.

But it’s also comforting to know that God is at work. He is shaking. And when we remain in Him, we will still remain. 

4. God sees you.

Finally, one last thing–or perhaps the most important one.

Elijah had his eyes on the seats of power, and felt alone, like the world was ending–and God told him to look lower.

God doesn’t only look at those in power. Our God’s eye is on the sparrow. He knows if it falls. He sees you. He is not only concerned with those in power. He cares about you.

I want to leave you with an excerpt from our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue (which you can pre-order now):

When the three of us think of how badly women have been hurt by the obligation-sex message, whether through manipulation, obligation, coercion, or pain, we’re reminded of the Bible story of Hagar, Abraham, and Sarah. As you may remember, God had promised Abraham he would have a son and from this son God would make a great nation. The problem? Abraham and Sarah were both old, and Sarah was barren. In desperation, Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her slave, Hagar.

Nothing in the Bible story tells us that Hagar was a willing participant. As a servant, she would not have been able to truly consent. Her feelings and needs wouldn’t matter. Nevertheless, Abraham heeded Sarah’s advice and used Hagar to have a son. Some years later, miraculously Abraham does have a child with Sarah. Now Hagar and her son Ishmael were threats to Isaac, the child of the promise. Abraham sends Hagar and her son away.

While she is in the desert, God provides for her. And here’s where things get interesting. Hagar is the first person in Scripture who is given the honor of bestowing a name upon God. And the name she chooses? “The God who sees me.” After being sexually assaulted, forced to carry a baby, and then abandoned, never having her needs or wishes taken into account, being invisible and used to meet other people’s needs, God sees her.

And being seen makes all the difference.

Sheila Gregoire, Rebecca Lindenbach, Joanna Sawatsky

The Great Sex Rescue

God sees you. You matter.

We are living in a time when everything is being shaken, and the foundations of what we thought we believed and what we thought are holding us up are crumbling down.

But God has not left. He remains. And we are not alone. He has reserved others.

Cling to Him. Look for the fruit. See who is moving towards Christ. And know that you are never, ever alone.

4 Truths about God after the Attack on the Capitol

I’m leaving this open for comments–but please, let’s not get too into politics or into the validity of the election results. I will delete that. I just want to talk about trusting leadership, not what to do when your world view crumbles. Thanks!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Melissa W

    A good word Sheila! Thank you!

  2. M

    As an American and Jesus-following Christian, thank you for acknowledging all this. My (former) evangelical mega church has been SILENT on social and racial injustice and SILENT on the attack on the US Capitol. Thank you to all of your team for speaking the truth of the Word and shining a light. You are making a difference.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so sad, but also not surprising. I find that often smaller churches are more willing to do the hard stuff. Also, the fact that churches haven’t grappled with race issues in the US is very troubling. I’m not American, so I’m not in the thick of this, but Jesus never came to empower one race or one people group over another. He came to show us all that we are all made in the image of God, and that our attitude towards one another should be that of service. We seem to have forgotten that.

      • M

        Agreed. After seeing some downplaying this attack and the causes of it, I want to thank you again for being a Christian leader who’s not doing that.

  3. edl

    Good message, Sheila.
    [Some of this comment has been deleted because I don’t want to get into that sort of discourse here. But thank you for the support.]

  4. Chris

    I think too big a deal is being made of all this. It wasn’t that long ago that a gunman went into the Canadian Parliament building and Canada survived just fine. The US Republic is much stronger than a group of rioters.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually don’t think there were that many similarities at all between the two events. The Canadian gunman was alone; he had no big group behind him. He was not trying to overturn an election while being egged on the Prime Minister. He was stopped immediately by the guards at Parliament, who responded professionally and well.
      I just know that I have always looked the U.S. as a beacon of democracy. I am sad right now.

      • Sam

        Yes to everything you said! As an American, I was sick to my stomach watching the riot. As a Christian, I am horrified that there are people who say they love Jesus and act in a way that is the exact opposite of what he calls us to do. It’s difficult to be an Evangelical Christian in America because people automatically assume I support the actions of the current administration. I follow Jesus as my leader, so I desperately try to act in a biblical manner that I fervently hope is pleasing to Him. There isn’t room for both hate and the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We have to choose!

      • Chris

        Sheila, maybe I didn’t articulate my statement very well. My point merely was that in the grand scheme of things, this is not what a lot of people here were making it into. Should these rioters go to jail? You bet! And they will! But anyone who ransacks a federal building should! Think back 6 months when “peaceful protesters” raided and looted the post office in Portland. Nothing ever happened to them. I had an employee who truly believed civil war was going to breakout because these loonies pushed down some police barriers and put there feet up on the desks and stole a laptop. Is it sad what happened? Absolutely. Do I think the country will survive it? Yes I do.

      • Jane Eyre

        Sheila, as an American, I am always sad when people in other countries do not understand how our laws and media work. Please do not get this upset; what you are being told is actually untrue.

  5. Melissa

    Several years ago I learned a very painful lesson about putting my faith and hope in humanity rather than God. The well known senior pastor of our church had a very public, very traumatic fall from grace. One thing that emerged in my heart during the great shaking of our church was that if our pastor had been that high up on a pedestal to fall such a long way, we helped put him there. I helped put him there. Me. Yes, he had committed some grave sins, but so had I. Ouch. I had to wrestle through that. Learning that lesson and changing the way I view people in leadership – as humans, not as gods – helped prepare me for what’s going on in my country. I have been carrying an unsettled feeling in my soul as I watch other Christians treat their political candidates like gods. It’s not that I don’t care who is elected into office. I do, but beyond that I know that person will only be President for four to eight years, and then we will go through the entire cycle again and again. If I let myself be shaken so badly every time we go through the election cycle, I would be an absolute mess. Maybe that’s what’s happening here. In treating our political candidates like gods and being shaken over and over again, people have reached the breaking point, resulting in an assault on our democratic process and the loss of five lives. I hope and pray that this is enough of a wake-up call. Our faith and hope and foundation cannot be in the few human beings who sit in elected office over our government. They are important, yes, but ultimately they are temporary, whether we like it or not. Humans in general are temporary. If we truly believe the platitude that “God is still on the throne”, we need to start acting like it more.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well put, Melissa! I do think there’s a reckoning coming because Christians in North America has been too quick to abdicate our wills/consciences/thoughts to our leaders. We haven’t questioned enough. We haven’t been discerning enough, in all kinds of realms. Bringing back discernment to the church, and promoting questioning of authority, is what evangelicals need right now.

      • Robin

        Yes, absolutely, Sheila.
        Thank you for the encouragement to keep going and ‘not grow weary’. FOCUS!
        Y’all’s work and ministry is such a blessing.
        Hugs and prayers. ☃️

  6. Bre

    Thank you. I really needed this. Right now I’m just very sad…I don’t want to be deleted so…I do pro life activism and oven been engaged in pro life canvassing and stuff to get politicians who support pro life policies and oppose abortion elected…do the math) wensday made me utterly furious. While I do identify with many of the beliefs/opinions of the people who stormed our capitol, what that small group did was totally wrong and made us in the bigger picture lose all credibility. I actually was thinking of the Elijah story yesterday; obviously, I do what I do out of deep convictions that God has given me and it’s downright depressing to me to realize that my rather childish belief in good and justice always winning in the end isnt exactly how things work. It’s been a pretty sad discovery I’ve been on since my eyes have been opened to how the church treats women and marriage. You’ve seen many of my rants on here.I’m just trying to trust in God that everything will be okay because people being hurt and injustice makes me angry and frustrated because I’m not all powerful and can’t fix everything. I’m still sad though and my anxity doesn’t help any.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Bre. I totally get it. I think what we need to remember is that God really does care about justice. He does. That’s kept me going!

  7. Emmy

    Not everyone who calls him/herself a Christian truly is a Christian.True! Also…not even every true Christian is a grown up or a mature or a wise Christian. Many of us are still, like Apostle Paul said, like little Children in Christ that are inexperienced in truth and have not yet grasped but the basics. And many of these toddlers are in leadership positions in Churches. Not good.

  8. Phil

    Very brave post Sheila – thank you for trusting us to not go all political on your blog because trust me I would love to tell 46,000 people what I think. I follow you for many reasons Sheila – I have understood for a very long time that this blog is not about you. It is ONLY about Jesus and well sex and marriage too 😎. Jesus is the only leader for me. The other leaders of the world should be leading by his example. The problem is too many people dont want to do what Jesus would do. To many people want their will done not Gods. I am grateful for the awesome place to hang out and get closer to Jesus. Thank you Sheila and thank you TLVH team.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Phil! And I am sorry for what your country went through this week.

  9. Wild Honey

    Thank you for this, Sheila, I agree with everything you’ve written. God is constant, even when the world around us is not.
    I struggle with “maybe they’re not a Christian.” I agree with it in theory, but having seen it used against individuals who leave a particular church because of valid disagreement with bad leadership decisions… I struggle to apply it to specific situations.
    When David raped Bathsheba and had Uriah killed, was he “not a Christian” for that period? (I know he was technically Jewish, but you get the idea.) He eventually repented and had to live with the fruit of ALL his actions, both good and bad. On the one hand, he is praised as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22); on the other hand, Bathsheba is called the wife of Uriah (not David) in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:6). It can be complicated, I think.
    After leaving a toxic church situation, I found healing in the prayer “Jesus, help them love others better,” both for the leader who questioned my character and gaslit my husband and I, and for those who stood silently by while it happened. It later dawned on me that this is the same prayer we pray as a family at bedtime: “Jesus, help us love you better and love each other better, too.”
    I think we can pray and hope for a leader’s (and their enablers’) repentance and salvation, while still using our God-given discernment in determining whose fruit shows they are worthy of following and whose is not.
    Not that I think you’re saying differently, just mental processing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great question, Wild Honey.
      Let me try to process along with you!
      I think the difference with David is that his sin was an aberration; it grew out of laziness, rather than with a wrong way of seeing the world. He got caught up in laziness and entitlement, and that led to sin upon sin.
      But in his heart, he still knew what was right.
      I think the point of the passages where Jesus warns people that there will be those in the last days who honestly thought they were following God, but weren’t, is that in people’s hearts, they don’t understand who God is. They are doing things in His name that have nothing to do with God at all. They misunderstand the whole point.
      David never misunderstood the whole point–he just majorly slipped up. And when attention was brought to that, he realized his error and repented. But Jesus says that there are those who think they are following Him that He does not know at all. Does that make sense?

      • Wild Honey

        Yes, it does, thank you, Sheila!

      • Phil

        This was good discussion – thank you both

  10. Michelle

    Thank you for saying this! What is a major issue for us now will eventually be a story, and the world will change in that time. But God doesn’t. Just yesterday I was speaking to a couple regarding the church’s treatment of women, and your snippet regarding Hagar rings so true: He’s the God who sees (us), and sometimes followers of God do things He never directed us to do. Thank you for the reminder, and thank you to everyone in the comments! I love reading the thoughts posted here.

  11. Amy

    I see the problem in the American church differently. There is a falling away. It is largely apostate. Not surprising if you understand the times and also not surprising that God is shaking things to wake up his church and to separate the sheep from the goats. I do think your criticism against your brethren who supported the President is misguided. No true believer looks to him as a spiritual leader and no one agrees with him in lockstep. But we see the alternate party as the vehicle to opening America up to a Godlessness never seen before in our nation’s history. To elaborate would be getting too political so I will refrain. Those of us raising children in this world are genuinely scared. Like Lot, our souls are vexxed. And we don’t riot. We stay home and pray.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally understand that perspective, and I’m sympathetic to it. But can I suggest something? We can get way too upset about government. Good government is a blessing. It really is. But even if the worst happens and your government becomes terrible, it doesn’t change what our main focus should be. Care for the widow and orphan, feed the hungry, be Jesus’ hands and feet. I used to be really addicted to politics, but I realized that all of my emotional energy was going into who won elections. And ultimately who won didn’t change what I was being called to do with my life. So if I just got on with my calling, I’d be mentally more healthy and I’d get more done!
      I’m not saying this about you personally at all, just an observation I made on Facebook today that I’m carrying over here as well. Our citizenship is not here. It’s in heaven. Many Christians do amazing things and live very big lives even under terrible governments. Yes, that’s a thing to mourn, but we need to remember that the government is never the main thing; the body of Christ and the kingdom of God are. And the two are not synonymous. I know for me, that thought helped so much reduce my own stress and helped me stop reading political news all the time (and helped me get so much more done!)

      • Becky

        Thank you for that perspective, Sheila. I’ve stayed quiet till now because I loathe politics and generally try to avoid it as much as possible, but that’s become impossible over this last year. My thoughts are very similar to Amy’s, especially as I’m from the state that the president- elect is from, and grew up watching him consistently support the opposite of what I know to be good. And it’s hard not to mourn when I see what that party is already promising to unleash, knowing how much more difficult it’s going to be to raise my kids to know Jesus in a country that’s becoming openly hostile to people who believe like me. I’ve found messages like this one very comforting, along with others I’ve found this week that encourage parents to keep doing what we can to point our kids to Jesus in spite of the culture.

  12. Active Mom

    I was sad this week as an American but I have been sad all summer. To me all of the unrest just shines a spotlight on how irrelevant the church has become. In large part due to their own choice. We attended a large church most recently. They were biblically based but in hind sight they would not really speak out on sin at least to the adults. There were many sermons about pride, jealousy etc. BUT, I never heard a sermon talking about the wreckage of porn, discussing abuse and never about the awful divorce rates. The only thing ever said about divorce was God still loves you. Want to volunteer? Sure? We don’t care that you are on your second marriage because you cheated on your first wife and fight tooth and nail regarding paying child support. Talk the talk? Say your sorry even if your actions don’t match your words? That’s ok. Our church did talk about social justice issues. Racism was discussed and tackled but never LGTBQ issues. In fact when the local school district was considering removing parent consent from teaching children as young as kindergarten about Transgendered issues parents called out and I know many who begged our church for public support. Others also asked their churches as well both large and small. Nothing. They didn’t want to “get involved with political issues.” The group that did support the parents? The Mosques. It made me sad. I see people hurting and crying out to be heard and my first thought was the church needs to listen to help heal and they do! However, I think it’s the churches lack of speaking firm on biblical issues that has gotten us to this point.

    • kmmc

      Becky wrote: ” And it’s hard not to mourn when I see what that party is already promising to unleash, knowing how much more difficult it’s going to be to raise my kids to know Jesus in a country that’s becoming openly hostile to people who believe like me.”
      Well, as a black woman (canadian, that is), this is how I feel everyday. It’s been worse since the last 4 years. Even as a canadian, Trump has emboldened people in my country to be more openly racist towards minorities.
      You wrote ” how much more difficult it’s going to be to raise my kids to know Jesus in a country that’s becoming openly hostile to people who believe like me.”
      This is how I feel when I’m pulled over by cops for doing nothing wrong. This is how I feel when my brothers are followed by the police…..
      So, I’ll tell you what white christians have told me:
      Suck it up.
      It’s in your head.
      Get over it .
      You’re too sensitive.
      No one owes you anything.
      And they cap it off by saying: Jesus loves you

      • G.C.B.

        Although it’s been over four months since Insurrection Day, I wanted to reply and express my sympathies for your maltreatment and your anguish. Ever since January 6th, one of my deepest convictions, both as a believer and a citizen, is to strike down any behavior reminiscent of what we saw at Capitol Hill, and the behavior we hear of the white terrorists murdering so many people of color today. I am especially convicted to hunt this behavior down in Christian settings, church or otherwise. I can’t say that I’m perfect at it, I’m not. But even if nobody’s perfect, that doesn’t mean nobody is capable of doing better than they did before. I could be doing more than I currently am. I can’t wait for the opportunity to do even more than what I can do now. I have never shaken the sense of foreboding conflict that was born hearing coverage of the attack, and I can only imagine how much more palpable and harrowing that feeling was-and still is-for you as a woman of color. Being a white woman myself, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never truly know, at least not until I’m in Heaven for God to give me a better comprehension. The longer we act like the racist, terrorist mindset in White Christianity right now is nothing to be concerned about, the worse we’ll make it for everybody in the long run. I only hope that you and your loved ones are safe, and I’m praying that God is guiding you to where you need to be.


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