GOD IS BETTER THAN THAT
In Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins, he speaks at length about God’s character.
In Jay Bakker’s book Fall to Grace, he speaks about the astounding grace offered to all by God.
In the work of Jon Piper, we are told that we are to enjoy God forever.
Richard Dawkins says God is a delusion.
Sam Harris has no use for God and claims faith is absurd.
1 John says God is love and light.
Jesus called God abba, which can be translated as daddy.
So, who is God and what is his character?
Can we trust God?
Should we just chuck it all and make our self out to be our own God?
It seems God is always in the news, yet I doubt that when we use that word that we are speaking of the same thing. For some God is ruler, judge and lawmaker and for others God is a loving parent and for others a tree or some other object in nature, so I think it would be wise to figure out what God’s character is.
I say God is better than all these notions, that God is better than anyone knows or can ever know.
You could ask ten random people on the street and you would get ten different answers.
You could ask ten different Christians and you would get ten different answers.
Should we let everyone come up with their own concept of God and be done with it?
I say no. God is not a smorgasbord. We need to get a definite answer, or as close as we can. Since I am a Christian, I will come at this from a Christian perspective. I am not advocating that the answer I put forth will become doctrine and worshiped in every Christian church in the world. That would be stupid and wrong. This is, as each of my blogs has been and will continue to be a piece of the conversation and nothing more. Feel free and I would encourage you to reply and tell me what you think on this subject.
What got me thinking today about God’s character today were two posts on my Facebook page, one from a fellow progressive Christian and one from a Jesuit priest, the Progressive Christian first and then the priest.
“The God that many conservative Christians embrace is far more similar to the anthropomorphized ancient Greek god Zeus, or even an angry volcano god, than the more mysterious and compassionate God ‘in whom we live, move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:28).” P.72 Kissing Fish: Christianity for people who don’t like Christianity
This passage points out how many Christians concept of God focus’ more on wrath and judgment, they will fight tooth and nail against anyone who disputes this type of God. This god threatens and punishes people with hell. Many who support this concept reinforce the false assumption that God is angry with you and you must earn his love and grace, something that is impossible. This kind of God does more damage to a person’s soul and psyche than anything else.
Some have called this divine child abuse.
Some have said that is why they cannot and will not believe in God.
I grew up with this toxic notion and had to reject it before I could find that the real thing is more mysterious and amazing than anything I or anyone else could imagine. God is better than that.
Some have done horrible things and when they go to church to get help and comfort they are told that they’re not good enough.
Even some in the church are told that they are not doing enough and God is upset with them.
Some say people who get sick are being punished for some slight to God.
Really? Is that who God is or is God better than that?
More people are chased away from church than who don’t believe. They love Jesus, but the way many do church makes them turn away. I have left some churches because I felt I didn’t belong there and didn’t feel welcomed. I am glad that I have found a church that I feel I fit in and where I can grow into my real self.
I doubt that we need to share the gospel with anyone in the western world. There are movies, documentaries, books, TV shows, and many other media around that tells us the story for us. We’ve heard it all before. We know the gospel. What needs to be seen is the love, transformation, and grace that results from living the gospel. When we live the gospel, more people will be drawn into our churches not by beating them over the head with our bibles, but by opening our arms and hearts wide for our fellow human being.
We need to be people of grace and love to point to the God of love and grace.
Now the priest, James Martin who is the author of A Jesuits Guide to Everything is currently in Israel researching a book he plans to write on the life of Jesus. Today he posted the following meditation.
Holy Land meditation: The ancient entrance and exit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is, for many historical reasons, a low door. Likewise did God lower himself to enter into our humanity. God lowered himself so much that he assented even to be crucified by us. So his lowering was also his way of leaving his human life on earth, and entering into the light of new life. Can we lower ourselves to let God enter into our lives? And in that lowering can we allow God to help us leave behind all that keeps us from entering into new light? And new life?
Jesus was fully human; he is the definitive human and fully God. He humbled himself to become as we are so that we can have a relationship with him. He shows us how we are to live our lives. We are to conduct our lives as he did, to love, treat others, stand up for others, and question as he did. In order to be in relationship with Jesus we need to lower or humble ourselves as he did. We need to give Jesus control of our life. Our prayer needs to be ‘thy will be done.’ This is not easy, yet it is what we need to do to allow God help us leave behind all that keeps us from entering the new light and life he offers in his grace and love. James Martin asks can we do it. My answer is yes, but I also how hard it is sometimes, especially in the world we live in, a world that values the material over the spiritual, the ego over the community. I have my problems with this.
The first quote questions the kind of God you believe and the second one asks us how we are to approach God and life. Brennan Manning in The Signature of Jesus argues that we are not to look at Jesus and ask is he God-like, but look God and ask is He Jesus-like. “We must deduce everything about God from what we do know about Jesus. All our previous images of God fade away.”
So is God wrathful, judge, and sends people to hell
Is God love, mystery, and grace?
Are Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins right is God wishful thinking?
Are Rob Bell and Jay Bakker right is God better than we can ever know?