A man went before a strange God-
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing.
"Kneel, mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My Particularly Sublime Majesty."
The man fled.
Then the man went to another God-
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, "My poor child!"
But who is God? And what is He like?
I have spent a lot of time pondering this question when searching to
find my personal theology. A lot of priests and nuns, madmen and
missionaries have tried to fill my head with their beliefs. And the
Baptist, the Methodist, and the Mormon do not agree, yet all defend
their own and deny the others views.
Like the simple story of the Centurion, I have used another simple
yet famous piece of Bible verse to define my beliefs about God. It is
said (somewhere in there) that man was made "in God's
image". We can agree that we are God's children (his wards, so
to speak). But I interpret this verse to mean that we are somehow
"like" him. We are a sub-set of the things that He either
is or wishes to be. We are a clone, a spin-off, a cutting, that
maintains portions of the essentiality of its root but is lacking in
many or most other areas.
If we are in God's image, than we might look at ourselves to try to
understand God. If we are a subset of God's gifts and abilities,
wants and wishes, then God is by definition a super-set of us. Let us
look at the things that we are and try to sift thought them as
"good" or "bad".
Let us assume that we are a lesser being, that has the "essential
element" of the rootstock but is a poor translation or fuzzy
picture. If there are errors, lets try to airbrush them out. Where
there is good image, lets organize the rest around that. In other
words, let try to recreate the root God from the resultant man that
is "in his image".
Like the way an anthropologic coroner and homicide detective take a
corpse or skeleton, various nearby fibers and footprints, and builds
an image or decent guess about the unknown murderer. Let us use one
of God's gifts to us, attention to detail and ability to draw
conclusions from diverse input, to try to better understand Him.
I began to really develop my sense of "God" when we had a
child. I watched my own instincts change, well, instinctively. I
watched my very priorities alter radically. As a father, I would do
anything, give anything, try or risk anything of my own to insure the
benefit of my child or prevent its harm.
I believe that the metaphor of our "father in heaven" puts
upon God many of these same traits toward me. If those instincts do
not come from God, then where? I am like that helpless, defenseless,
ignorant baby. And He will try to protect me, aid me, teach me. He
has already laid down his own life, suffered the ultimate atonement
for me. Why would he do all of that and then cut me off on some other front?
I believe that God has a sense of humor. Surely Jesus laughed, and
sang, and enjoyed a good story. How could man possess these traits if
they were not a part of God? Humor and delight are not something that
was "smudged" into the gene pool accidentally. Just like
order does not come from disorder, delight is too complex to leave it
But what about hate and vindictiveness. Man possesses those complex
traits too. Since God is God, and we believe him to possess
"perfect love" and Jesus preached such lessons as goals for
man to strive to achieve, I can't help but believe them to be
mankind's folly and overcome by a "perfect" being. If I
ever evolved into being God (a blasphemous thought in almost all of
the world's religions), I would expect to have left pettiness and
vindictiveness behind me, and filled myself with the quiet confidence
that would come from being all-powerful and all-knowing and all of
that other good stuff.
God must have been clever, and smart as a tack. I respect people like
that, and we try our best to unite behind the people (or the ideas of
these people) that can draw diverse inputs into a single coordinated
result. Some men are wiser than others. And we respect wisdom.
Therefore it must have come from God with varying degrees of success
passing it on to each of us.
God is understanding and compassionate. He knows our faults and
shortcomings, yet accepts us as being "human". So when we
find ourselves openly accepting others, suppressing the instinct to
exclude them from our love, we are doing God's work.
God accepts each of us as we are. How can we expect less than that of
ourselves. Like a father to a son, God will do anything for us. How
could we expect less, less than we would do for our own child
(despite our own imperfect parenting skills). Jesus taught about the
prodigal son, who has returned and is celebrated. Why can't we
celebrate the differences in the many children of our Father? Why
must we separate and segregate? Why must we invent secret differences
(that come from man and not from God) such that some can be
"chosen" and others "abandoned"? Jesus spoke of
the shepherd that leaves his flock to find the one stray. What could
possibly be misunderstood from that powerful message?
Why must man invent an arch-rival, and attribute any unexplained or
misunderstood event to this imaginary "angel of evil"? Why
must man use this invention to destroy where he was taught to build,
to hinder where he was taught to help, to separate where he was
taught to unite, to brandish like a sword to render when Jesus
explicitly taught us to bring together?
Why do some men choose to cut and paste snippets and words from
divine sources to put together a patch-work crazy quilt theology,
using God's words sometimes to preach lessons that exactly contradict
the lessons and parables of the new testiment? What can be
misunderstood about "love thy neighbor" and "whatsoever
you do, you do unto me?"
And how dare such men cloak this explicit disobeying of divine
authority as being divine directive?
When an evil man is godless, harm and destruction is the logical
outcome. That is the basest part of mankind. It is from such godless
leaders that slaughter and slavery and destruction came forth. From a
"god of evil"? No, from the evil that lives within each
man's soul, unless he can overcome it.
But when a man claims to embrace God, quotes His lessons, then
searches about to "cut and paste" together a mishmash of
theology, pasting over any holes with all-purpose "divine
revelation"; this perversion requires the opposite form of human
baseness. It requires a charismatic ego-maniac, driven by vanity to
lead others, awash in power and adulation, at risk to surrender to
earthly human corruption. You must run from such tyrants as you would
from those ancient invading barbarians.
God's voice talks quietly, and speaks of simple lessons. All the rest
is for naught. Abandon the false teachings and embrace the god of
common sense and uncommon love. Discard that which is the silly
invention of earthly men, designed to halt intellectual exercise and
suspend individual morality, designed to use the weapon of fear and
the false reward of conditional love and earned grace. Discard
ridiculous rituals, and accept in your heart the calling made plain
in the New Testament. End the missions. Dismantle the institutions.
Sell off the cattle ranches and unlock the temple doors. Disregard
the false prophets.
Pray in the words our Savior gave.
"Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven".