One of the goals for this blog is to provide you with ideas that might help you find the connect with God we all seek. This week I offer an article I read in the New York Times. I have thought much about whether to publish this or not. It takes a look at what has come to be called the “Prosperity Gospel.” If you know what that is then this article may interest you. If not, the understanding of God that is portrayed here will interest you as well.
There is nothing positive about shame. Yet we do it all the time; shaming people into doing something. It’s an issue of control.
Some believe the God who entered our realm of experience in the person of Jesus is a God of shame. You can often hear this from those called “Christians”. So the next statement is always, “I am very sorry but I cannot, I will not, worship a God who controls by shaming and guilt, NO!”
Me neither. In fact I will go a step further and tell you I believe it is the nature of love to let people be free to choose their own destiny, make their own lives happier, decide what is best for them or not. And, yes, because of this freedom, things happen. But it is not because God caused them. In fact, I hold it true that while God is still all powerful, God chooses not to exert it but instead backs off letting us be. That is the way of love. If God did not back off such that everything happens because God causes it than I would have to say God is not just or fair which I believe God is.
Freedom is the prerogative of a God who chooses to let his creation be.
Next week: what happens to me when I die.
The question who is God is a big deal question. Is God like us and if so, is God male or female? Or both? These questions come from the premise that God is made in our image rather than the other way around. Suppose I said that the “definition” of God is that “God Is?” Human, male, female, both, is really not part of the reality of “God Is”.
Some will say God is the universal mind. Again — made in our image. To say “God Is” is to own up to the fact there is a God who pulled the whole thing together we call the cosmos as we know it from our perspective. “God Is” and because “God Is” we are.
Here’s another one. Is this God a God of punishment or a God of presence? The problem many have with the issue of faith in God is this sense of judgment: if I do wrong, God will condemn me, punish me. I have a problem with that too. Much too much in today’s culture, God is portrayed as ready to punish us if we don’t live up to some standard. NO! In the person of Jesus we see a God who chooses presence over punishment. Those cast out of the culture of the time, Jesus embraced. Lepers, prostitutes, unpopular people, were embraced by Jesus. That says something to me.
Maybe, just maybe, when darkness or pain enters my life (or yours), it does not mean we have done something wrong and God is punishing us like a parent. Maybe, just maybe, things just happen for no good reason at all. Yes there is a God who created all there is. But maybe, just maybe, God chooses to back off from controlling everything. After all, the living thing to do is to back off from controlling so that people may be free. And in so doing, things can happen.
And when they do, it is not because God is angry. Quite the contrary. When darkness enters our lives God is very present with us — walking with us.
Though we may walk through the valley of darkness “God Is” is with Us.