God: Shaken and Stirred

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Heard of Humans of New York? Well, this post caught my attention…

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Some of the comments applauded his honesty and his willingness to question his faith. Others expressed they shared his sentiment. I love this guy’s honest search and his questioning and I share his sentiment, but if the search ends here for him and many others, while I can’t blame them, I can’t say I agree the search is over.

We have got to stop putting God in a box. Yesterday, my friend Kathy preached a beautiful sermon about not putting God in a box. I already had this blog in the works, so some of you are going to hear the box thing again, but in my words this time. (I guess the Spirit tag teams?)

Many of us are content to use the infinitesimal knowledge we possess about God, our parents, our friends, new people we meet, our significant others, in order to confine these individuals so we can know what to expect. Some of this is not intentional. Boxes are not always a negative and can be helpful, at least initially. However, the farther we trudge into relationship of any kind the harder it becomes to retain boxes without losing authenticity and depth.

The need to find an explanation for tragedy, cruelty and the senselessness of the world has us looking to God because we need someone to blame and we need to know someone is pulling the strings even if we don’t like it. But if we identify God as good, as love, does a good and loving God create suffering in the lives of the beloved? Do we humanize God to the extent that He is as dualistic as we are?

Certainly, in Christ, God is humanized, however, we can’t project our humanness onto God-in-flesh. It doesn’t make any sense. Christ was fully human, but fully God, and this is a tension in the Christian faith with which we have to contend. I was reminded last week of something Nadia Boltz-Weber claims in her book Pastrix, “The Bible is not God. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority.” I find myself more in agreement, and honestly more comfortable, with Nadia’s perspective than I do a God wielding chaos and hurt.

Our desire to meld the Old Testament and the New Testament attributes a duality to God’s character. Jesus established a new covenant, but rather than live in the freedom of the new covenant, we prefer to live in the shadow of the old one. I’m not suggesting we toss the Old Testament; it still has value. In fact, through the reality of the new covenant the Old Testament is enriched and through the knowledge of the old covenant the New Testament receives boundless scope.

Before we begin to blame God for death, war, disease, poverty, and all the terrible things people face in the world, we have got to consider the implications of a fallen world and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also have to admit, for all the information we have, it is not enough to bulldoze the theology of others. It is my hope, and I will go as far as to say I believe it is God’s hope as well, that our search for Him continue and for our search to spur one another on rather than create mires of hopelessness. This requires allowing your entire theology to be shaken, stirred, lit on fire and spilled all over the floor. And if our God isn’t big enough for that…then we’ve confined Him, yet again.

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