Thoughts on God and Church

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.

My God

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.

Church

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

Coming Together

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?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

About Your Spiritual Truth

I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director, Author and Hands-on Healer. I offer services, programs and classes that empower you to hear the voice of the Divine that speaks from within you. It is the voice of the Divine that leads us to our highest truth, to the discovery and cultivation of our gifts and to a life of Authentic Freedom where we know contentment, compassion and joy. Your truth will set you free!
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3 Responses to Thoughts on God and Church

  1. Bob says:

    Hi Lauri,

    I’m fairly new to your site and I want to first say how relieved I feel just knowing that I’m not the only cradle Catholic to have alternative views on spirituality. I can certainly relate to your post and how humankind has created a “god” in their own image as opposed to the God of Love, Compassion, and Oneness that is espoused by Jesus of Nazareth.

    For many years – like many from the early seventies – I had to look beyond the Catholic Church to find tools that would enable me to have a more contemplative or “inner” relationship with the Divine Presence. Consequently, I spent nearly 25 years doing an Eastern meditation practice before openning myself up to the possibilities of what the Catholic Church may have to offer today. I felt very drawn to the writings of Thomas Keating, for example, that gave me hope that the Church was finally openning up to the validity of each person’s individual revelation of the Divine in their lives. How that would take shape was certainly an individual condition – and nothing written in stone.

    Sadly, I find that the Catholic church today is moving toward a pre-Vatican 2 mindset – big on preaching morality and never failing to remind us how sinful we are. There seems to be such an emphasis on our “sinful nature” that IMO it significantly overshawdows our inherent Divine Nature and Goodwill, which we are (in essence). Personally, I wish he church emphasized joy of life and our intimate relationship with the Divine – the invitation that Jesus shares with all humanity.

    So, whether or not I’ll be able to continue to attend Mass is questionable at this point in time. Personally, I tend to align more with the spirituality of Unity Church more so than the Catholic Church but I enjoy the sense of ritual and relationship that is often missing for me in other services.

    Wish you the best and maybe we’ll chat some time soon!

    Blessings-

    Bob Russo

    PS: There is a wonderful book I am currently reading by a Dominican Sister – Jean Denomme – entitled Where Is This God Of Yours? I think you’d love it!

  2. Beverly says:

    Bob,
    You may want to also try the Episcopal church, if you can find one that’s more “high church.” Ritual is very similar to Catholic, but there is much less emphasis on sin etc. – which I personally appreciate. I attend Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, which is in a very open/liberal/welcoming diocese. (Sadly, some have biases similar to the Catholic, so it’s a good idea to try several, if you live in an area where you have a choice.) Blessings on your search.

  3. Jessi says:

    Lauri,

    You wrote: “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.”

    As one to another, you’re sounding a bit like a mystic again!

    Bob, I just want you to know that there are good, rebellious and forward-moving parishes. I’m fortunate enough to have found one, and I have faith that there are more. I believe that there is room for dissenters in the RCC. There always have been. There always will be. Whether we can make that body into a genuine part of the People of God and Body of Christ is another question. My jury is out. And/but I remain hopeful, faithful and optimistic. VC2 did happen.

    Back to you, Lauri. You wrote: “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.” You KNOW there are! You seem to be trying to make a place like that, yourself, for those who turn to you for guidance. I believe that it is working.

    There are also these rooms, sometimes in church buildings, where people gather together exactly and explicity to do what you’re suggesting…sharing tools, ears, hearts, experience, strength and hope. Simple, flawed humans just trying to help one another navigate weakness, powerlessness, and life’s challenges.

    I’m betting there are other models out there that work, and are working, too.

    I continue to write from a place of faith and hope.

    In my humble opinion, the Kingdom is here, alive and well, awaiting our cumulative readiness to unite as the true People of God: all people of Goodwill.

    Just me, again.

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