Thursday, February 16, 2012

of golden calves and certainty

“Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of the mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”  Madeline L'Engle

Sometimes I think that when we are talking about God or inviting others to get to know him, we communicate that we are certain about what we believe.  We communicate that we know who God is (and that maybe no one else does).  We communicate that we know the boundaries of God's character, we can predict his actions, and we know why he does what he does.  And in doing this, we give the impression that, in order to choose to follow Christ, they must be certain of all these things too.

This goes back to the question about what we are inviting people into when we invite them to faith.  Are we inviting people to believe in the idea of God, or are we inviting them to a relationship with a God who is mysterious, unpredictable, and a wholly separate being whom we can't control and will only ever incompletely understand?

It is such an innately human thing to create an image of God in our minds.  I am always struck by this when reading the story of Israel, and how multiple times they created idols and introduced them as Yahweh - the God who brought them out of Egypt.  Why did they do that?  What is it about having a smaller picture of God that is so attractive to us as humans?  Why do we want to feel like we can control him or define him or put him in a corner and forget about him?

But when we realize that he is alive, active, creative, and wholly other, we are forced to relate to him as a separate being.  Knowing him and relating to him that way forces us to change how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.  I think this is a good thing.  This is the kind of relationship with God that I want to be inviting people into.

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