“She who has the Most High, needs no other high,” is one of my favorite sayings in the whole world because it is very true. So the atheistic suggestion of the day, one I have heard much of my life, is that religion is just an addiction, that the alleged “God high” has just evolved to satisfy the pleasure centers of our brain.
CS Lewis and I beg to disagree, on account of the fact that we both seem to have spent much of our lives wondering if we even have a pleasure center in our brains at all. I do make an assumption about CS Lewis here, but among other things he did say, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
Precisely. The vast majority of my Christian life has not been spent delighting in the alleged “God high.” Most of my life has been spent going, “Lord this really stinks and I don’t like it one bit.” Lord, this path seems to be completely lacking reward, sure to bring me suffering and I just don’t get it. Lord this makes no sense to me at all. Lord this choice here would feel good and your choice is sure to be painful. Lord, why in the world have I chosen to follow you in the first place?
If humans were driven by nothing more than brain chemistry, by a system of chemical rewards and punishments, then IB a totally defective unit who has often chosen the most miserable course of action possible. Why?
The “why” of that has puzzled me too, because I assure you I am neither a fool nor a masochist. Why have I chosen to limp along in this somewhat half-hearted effort at obedience? Because for my entire life God has been whispering, trust me. My ways are not your ways. You just don’t understand. You are deceived and you cannot see around the next bend. And over and over again He has proven that to be precisely true.
For the record, IB does not have an issue with port or wine, but I do have an addictive personality, in the sense that I have tried to pour multiple other things into the abyss of my soul, coffee, food, chocolate, cigarettes, relationships, people, money……shoes. Never underestimate the peace and security to be found in a new pair of shoes. Shoe idolatry, it’s a real thing in the world.
Faith can be hard. It can be excruciatingly painful. Thousands of people have laid down their very lives for it, been tortured, murdered, executed. Faith makes no sense in the context of brain chemistry, of rewards and punishments. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. Love flies in the face of survival, it defies might makes right, it is irrational in terms of evolution and brain chemistry. It can cost you everything.
Most of my Christian life has been spent in doubt and fear, confusion and hurt. Most of my time seeking an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ has been more akin to hiding and fleeing in terror, than to pleasure and brain chemistry. It wasn’t until perhaps the last decade or so that it even occurred to me that faith could be a pleasurable thing, that obedience has it’s rewards. The other day someone said, “the joy of the Lord is my strength,” and my eyes rolled just as they always used to, that shadow of cynicism rearing its ugly head once again. Joy, seriously? That is not God speaking at all, but my own fear and doubt and scars and an awareness that my faith has come at a price, nothing like the price Jesus Christ paid, but long moments of pain and grief and loss just the same.
Addicts suffer a great deal, their lives often a chaotic mess as they chase a high they can’t even catch anymore, as they start to use just to feel something akin to normal. They are always operating out of a sense of deprivation, of lack, of not enough. The glass always half empty, never full enough. The “God High” is the precise opposite, it is abundant and overflowing, the glass refillable, the “high” enduring and steadfast. A “God high” that unlike other kinds of highs, actually begins to supernaturally improve one’s life, rather than destroying it.
Someone said faith was just a chemical concoction, much like falling in love. Indeed,after some 35 years of hard work and suffering it is now precisely like falling in love, and so “she who has the Most High, needs no other high.” Perhaps that sounds a bit illogical, irrational, but suppose you did have this God sized hole designed within, this place where total surrender begins to feel much like falling in love, where the joy of the Lord becomes your strength? In that case, resisting, pridefully declaring your being far superior to all the other evolved humans, having chosen to rise above and avoid the “God high” at all costs, is just nutty. In a quest to prove your vastly superior reasoning skills, in a statement that proclaims your own amazing self-control, in a decision that sets you far apart and way above all the other lemmings on the planet, you have chosen to forego the “God high” and just gone your own way?
No falling in love for you, no delighting in the wonder and mystery of it all, you as a completely random clump of cells having evolved for no purpose out of nothingness, do hereby proclaim your vastly superior decision to forgo the “God high” afflicting the lesser beings?
Which then begs the question, just who do you think you are proclaiming this great truth too?
Also ironically, such stubborn resistance, such a powerful need for control, such a desire to set one’s self apart from all the other lemmings, are the very same things that lurk at the heart of addiction, that spring forth from separation and self deprivation, that leaves one so hungry and alone they’ll pour anything they can into that abyss in our souls. Witting or unwitting, it is a form of self-imposed exile, one that fears being loved or not being loved, one that cannot deal with rejection, one that seeks whatever it can to mask the pain and fear and vulnerability that comes from discovering that, you are not the one in control here.
There is a God! Supposing there was not, however. In that case, believing that oneself, as a little bit of random biological goo, possesses the intelligence and reason to resist one’s own alleged evolution, should be recognized and perceived as a sign of some real illogical, disordered, and problematic thinking.
All in good humor here, but IB is a bit of an expert on disordered and problematic thinking, so that statement is not intended as a shaming tactic at all, it just is what it is. You, as a member of the human race share our propensity for stinking thinking, for worshiping our own brain chemistry, for believing ourselves wise and becoming fools, for putting up walls and hiding within our own self-imposed exiles.
You are not alone, not separate from the other humans, and not alone in the universe either. God exists right on the other side of our resistance, and for many of us, it is not in the high that we discover Him, but rather in the low, in that place at the foot of the cross where we are able to humble ourselves just enough to admit that there is a slight possibility we may not have all the answers.
“She who has the Most High, needs no other high,” but for some of us that can take quite a long time and it is a path marked more by suffering than by joy, not unlike childbirth really, where one soon forgets the past 36 hours of gawd awful labor pains and just lies there looking like the cat that has swallowed the cream, happily proclaiming the joy of the Lord is my strength.