Archive for March, 2011

Free of God

The further I travel on my spiritual journey, the more I recognize my tendency – and the tendency of most others I encounter on the journey – to make God into who I want or need him to be. By extension then, I break the first of the ten commandments of God on a regular basis – make no images of God. As has been said, God created man in his image and we’ve been returning the favor ever since. Do we take the first commandment seriously? Upon first reading, the first commandment deals only with carved or hand-made likenesses of God. But symbolically doesn’t it also refer to the images of God that we hold in our heads? Let me suggest an example of how our image of God is shaped by

In Western Christianity we prefer to see God as a man. And yet the first verses of the Scriptures clearly state: “God created humankind in God’s own image; male and female God created them.” (Genesis 1:27). It seems clear that God cannot be strictly masculine and yet we seem to need more proof. Enter Jesus. Many of the parables, metaphors and teachings of Jesus use father-God images we would call feminine. Consider reading the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) free of a male-centric view of God. Or the image of God as a mother hen in Matthew 23.

Here’s what I am discovering about myself. Sometimes I need God to come to me as a friend; other times as a lover. At some times it is good for God to come to me as a father; other times in feminine form. In all cases, I need not be afraid to let go of an image of God that is too small. I need God to teach me to let go. In fact, the journey of faith demands that we not only let go of our image of God but our image of self. Neither of those things are things I can do on my own; it has to be done to me by God. That happens when I live openly and honestly, letting the truth of God and Scripture speak into my life. What about you?

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God the Great Dodger

My recent studies in the book of Job with Richard Rohr has reminded me once again of the importance of otherness on the journey of faith. The first 37 chapters contain a roll-call of friends advising Job of his shortcomings and Job’s insistence that he has done nothing to deserve the ill that has befallen him. Woven throughout are questions of God asked by Job yet God remains silent. Until, that is, chapter 38 where Yahweh gives Job his answer.

Many confess to being upset or at least disappointed with this God who speaks from “a whirlwind” and does not really answer any of Job’s rightful questions. Missing in this response is an objective response to Job’s legitimate even painful questions. The modern world struggles with a hidden God desiring instead some objective response from God. One answer to this dilemma is to simply throw out all hope of any objective answers and be content as readers with an authoritarian God who owes us no answers. As true as that statement may be, it leaves me wanting more. Until I began to understand this truth: the opposite of subjectivity is not objectivity but otherness.

I know that sounds abstract and philosophical, but it is a crucial piece in appreciating what God is doing for Job in his narrative response. God makes no attempt to respond to each point by point concern because it will not really satisfy anyway. Every attempt to respond to feelings of resentment usually only deepens the resentment. People actually seem disappointed when a logical responses is given to their hurt and resentment. Why? Because logical answers don’t always satisfy our heart and soul.

God seems to be the great dodger of most human questions. More from me to follow. What say you?