Today’s blog explores two hot topics: God and Church. From my personal perspective, both have gotten a bad name….and we are the ones to blame.
Mean Old God
I’m not sure how this happened, but somewhere along the line, we humans, and some of our religions have decided that God is a mean old man in the sky who is judgmental, punitive, jealous and manipulative. Yeah, I know scripture might say this in a few places but I also know that there are other places in scripture that seriously contradict these unkind images of the Divine. This then poses the question about scripture and how we might use it to gain an understanding of God independent of our human desire to make God in our image instead of remembering it is supposed to be the other way around. Ultimately, there are as many paths to scripture and God as there are human beings, but in the end, I guess we can really only know God to the extent that we know ourselves and to the extent that we can get out of the way and allow God to reveal God’s self to us in intimate and personal ways.
This is of course, only my own personal opinion, and I know there are many who would differ with me on this….but I think God is cool. The God that I have come to know is loving, kind, compassionate and most importantly…present, accepting and patient. As a human being, I am a mess. I’m impatient, doubting, intolerant, rigid, unforgiving. And yet, God still loves me….and patiently and lovingly holds me as I move through the struggles of the human condition. The God I know is not mean. God does not inflict harm upon us humans or upon the world, but allows us to move through whatever the human condition throws at us and is there as a source of comfort, support, nurturing as we grieve the struggles and the losses and God points us toward the new life on the other side of the struggle…if we have eyes to see. This God knows what is in my highest good and desires for me to know it too and allows me to see this path when I am ready to see it. In a word, God is love. I have come to know this God through meditation, contemplation, prayer, scripture, my life experiences, teachers (some Christian, many not), relationships and worship.
This brings me to point two in today’s discussion. Church. I will pause for a minute as readers allow the “shuddering response” of that word to move through them. Church is another one of those dangerous words. For many, this word brings up positive, affirming, life-giving sensations. For others, it brings up fear, terror, disgust, anger, etc. etc. etc. Again, there are as many ways to experience and be church as there are human beings on this planet. Some are led by healthy individuals and groups of individuals and reflect this health in their theology and in their operations. Others are led by fearful leaders and their theology and work reflect that. In the end, church is an imperfect business run by imperfect people, as a result, church reflects that….some good things, some not so good. But….if we step REALLY far back, each and every church…regardless of our experience or judgment of them, has TWO common driving motivations:
- The search for peace
- The call to be love in the world
So, at the end of the day, is a church really just a group of people coming together under a common understanding of God, in search of peace and in the service of love in the world? Then I am left wondering, what would church look like if people were gathered in a place where they weren’t told what to believe but were given tools, permission and space to explore and come to know God on their own, allowing God to reveal God’s self to them in an intimate and personal way and were supported in that journey. HHMMMMM Just wondering.
What are your images of God? How did you come to these images?
What have been your experiences of church?
How can you be open to God revealing God’s self to you beyond what you might have been told by someone outside of you?
Authentic Freedom Ministries