We Need God

Douglas Coupland is a writer from Vancouver, Canada who became fairly famous in 1991 for his fictional novel,“Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture”, in which he coined the phrase, you guessed it, “Generation X”. Coupland is eccentric to say the least. He’s written several odd and provocative novels on post modern culture. With titles like, “Shampoo Planet”, “Microserfs” and “Girlfriend in a Coma”, Coupland has become a semi sub-cultural pop icon. Besides writing, Coupland has also gained recognition as a film maker and as a visual artist. He once sculpted a series of works in which he chewed up copies of his own books and wove them into hornets nests. Weird dude, huh? Coupland does not claim to be a Christian, and is in fact openly gay. But here’s the thing…

Douglas Coupland is very different from me. He is a non-southern, gay, liberal, public TV watching, sports hating, non-Presbyterian. Yet, he wrote one of the coolest paragraphs I’ve ever read about the human need for a relationship with God.

In his book, “Life After God”, Coupland writes…(click link for audio)

Here is My Secret (audio)

“Now – here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart
that I doubt I shall ever achieve again,
so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words.
My secret is that I need God –
that I am sick and can no longer make it alone.
I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving;
to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness;
to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love”

– Life After God, Douglas Coupland, (p. 359)

Personally, I find that this short passage, better than anything I’ve ever read, describes my desperate need for the Gospel. It is so dead on the money. And yet, what I find relatively shocking, is that the guy who penned those words, doesn’t seem to know the Gospel from a whole in the ground. How can this be? How is it that we who claim Christ often seem most pitiful at understanding the colossal need that we have for Him? Why do I think, as screwed up as I am, that I am capable of giving, that I am able to be kind, that I am able to love? Here is this whacky dude Coupland, chewing up his books to make faux hornet’s nests – a guy with tremendous self professed angst, anguish, and confusion – seemingly able to better understand his need for the Gospel than I am. He’s so messed up and yet so able to pinpoint his deepest need.

But maybe that’s my problem. Maybe my problem is that I think I’m OK. That since I’m a Christian, I have it all together. How contrary that kind of thinking is to the Gospel. I have to remember…to remind myself. The Gospel is for messed up people. It’s only for messed up people. No one else. No one else can see it or receive it. The Gospel belongs to desperate, broken, evil, sinful, Jesus craving, bone heads. Jesus has arranged it that way. He came for the sick, not the healthy. I pray that someday I may be better at seeing my desperate need for Christ, seeing it just the way Coupland sees it. On the other hand, I also pray for Douglas Coupland; that he might see what I see – that Christ is the only hope of Hollow Men. I pray that one day he might turn from pointlessly choking on the pages of his own novels and instead learn to chew on, and be fed by, the life giving Word of Christ. In the meantime, it is reassuring to know, that no matter who you are – liberal or conservative, artsy or redneck, cultural moron or cultural icon – our basic human need is the same.

We need God.

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These are pictures of the beehive made from the pages of “Generation X”.

2 thoughts on “We Need God

  1. Since “all who seek, find”, one wonders what god he desires. The desire for the God of the Bible is never left unsatisfied, since the Spirit Himself plants that desire within those whom the Father has given to the Son.

    Reply from Tim:
    Dad, the point of the article is not necessarily to say that Coupland is genuinely seeking Christ. I agree that, if indeed the Spirit is at work in Coupland, then that work will be accomplished. However, my point was to compare Coupland’s understanding of his spiritual need for God, the words of someone who does not know Christ; with my own shallow understanding. I profess Christ, and yet I am often so unaware of my daily (moment by moment) need for Him. It seems that we Christians often see justification as something that eliminates our need for God. Since we are “saved”, then we should be all better. When actually, the contrary is true. We are saved – God’s problem with us is taken care of – praise God! And yet, the work that needs to done in our hearts is just beginning. Sanctification is learning to depend upon Christ, to give up control to the Spirit, to continue a lifestyle of repentance and dependence. I tend to forget that – to think that because Jesus died for me, I’m all good. God saved me and now I don’t need Him anymore. That is such a deadly thought…a thought that creates spiritual pride. At least, this is where my heart goes. It really is so ironic that God would use a “non-believing” prophet to speak truth to me. I need God. I am incapable of living my life “for” God, I must live my life “in” him, in Christ, in reliance upon His Spirit. This was the point of my article…that I am arrogant and self-reliant; and therefore thankful that God humbles me with prophetic voices that emerge from places that I might never suspect.

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  2. Great post…wow can’t believe that he wrote that. Thanks for posting the “here is my secret” quote…I might use that for a SS lesson this weekend! Thanks for talking with me this morning. Thanks for speaking wisdom to me, for pleading to me to pay attention…I hate hearing it, but I desperately need it.

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