Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our Uncomfortable God

The God of the Bible is not a comfortable God. He claims to be an all powerful, loving God yet He will not guarantee us a pleasant life. Little wonder the Israelites in the Old Testament were drawn to other gods and why today we are tempt towards other schools of thought. If God is not going to make my life easier, why should I take a leap of faith?

When it comes to most things in life we want to know, what’s in for me? Putting aside our agendas to pursuit an unsure path is a huge risk and one we don’t take lightly. We may look at history and consider the damage brought about by religious zealots who thought they alone had a monopoly on truth. We may look at science and wonder if one day all the miracles and mysteries of life will be solved through scientific exploration. We may contemplate the illogicalness of believing in a God who would take the initiative to be involved in humanity. We may question the sanity of a Jewish carpenter claiming to be God. We may decide the most rational thing to do is conclude there are many paths to God and its best to be tolerant of other people’s belief. After all it is safer not to upset those whose religious tendencies move them towards violent behaviour.

So we adopt the thinking that if someone can manage a reasonably comfortable 70 plus years on earth they have done well. Yet so many spend all their energies just surviving life’s difficulties, trying to eek out a living, and not become overwhelmed by their daily worries. One is incline to think, is that all there is to life? What relevance is any god to the daily grind?

The problem with this approach is that the whole focus is on us and our limited view of the world. But supposing it is not about us? Supposing human life is not the pinnacle? What if there is an unseen spiritual world that is more enduring than what we see. Life can make sense once we stop believing we are the centre of attention. Once we stop looking for ways to entice God to bless our plans and start wondering what God’s plans are for the world, for this community, and for my life.

Once the focus is off ourselves, we may begin to see things a whole lot more clearly.

Next post: Devotional Thought : Revelation 18:4

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Matt Stone said...

Great thoughts! Syncretism really is born of non-surrender.

Susan said...

Thanks Matt

ellen Haroutunian said...

Thanks Susan - we do tend to remake God in our image.

gracerules said...

Susan, What a crazy idea!!!! You mean it's not about me??? :>)
It seems that we need a constant reminder of that reality. Thanks for participating in the synchroblog. I am always richer because of your contributions

by the way - I have my contribution up now at

Susan said...

Thanks Liz & Ellen I enjoyed reading your thoughts too.

Yewtree said...

I disagree that syncretism is not about following where the Divine leads. I am aware of several dual-faith practitioners (including myself) who followed a call to follow a second religion - it was an expansion of awareness, not a dilution of principles. It's not comfortable being a syncretist, i can assure you.

Sabio Lantz said...

Interesting, focusing off self is also a Buddhist practice -- well, a mystic practice in general. You are using your theology to accomplish what others do with different theologies. In the end, it is our hearts that matter, our beliefs are simple tools to be used well.

Susan said...

Thanks Sabio Lantz and Yewtree for dropping by.

However I think it is more than our hearts that matter. After all Jeremiah 17:9 tells, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Also by taking the focus off ourselves we then need to put it on God's purposes and his plans. Otherwise it is still about us.

For me it is about my relationship with God, made possible by the sacrificial death of his son, Jesus Christ. My awareness expands as I get to know Jesus more and more.

Sabio Lantz said...

Susan --

I appreciate your efforts to reign in orthodoxy. But the problem with quoting one passage from all the various writers compiled in the Bible is you can make it say all sorts of things. That is why your Christianity has such a large number of sects.

But I can do the same:

For of course it is the heart that matters:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- Matt 5:7-9

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
-- Luke 6:45

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
--Prov 4:22-24

So you can see that off course it is the heart that matters. And yes, our intuitions can deceive us. But superficial beliefs about history are not what make a heart. Closing your eyes and taking to an invisible, unhearable friend can help and joining with others to encourage each other in doing right can help. Relationships with God are not confined to your memorized stories -- others can do it in different ways. God is not as small as you imagine.

Susan said...

Sabio, Just to clarify: Are you saying my (orthodox) beliefs create the impression of a “small” God?

If so, do you feel this way because my beliefs in God are restricted to what I read in the Bible? Or because I believe that Jesus is the only way to God? Or both? Or have I misunderstood you?

Sabio Lantz said...

Susan, you minimized my statement that it is the heart that matters with your quote. Your faith is a believism faith. Part of your salvation ticket involves correct belief.
Yes, such "orthodox" beliefs can create a "small" God. IMHO.
We are of completely different ideas. I thought you were discussing "syncretism" but I think I was wrong. I forgot how I ended up visit your site. Best wishes with it !

Susan said...

Ok Sabio, thanks for that.

I don’t know how you got here either! I was invited to blog about syncretism as part of a synchroblog. There were no guidelines and since this is a Christian blog I approached the subject from a Christian perspective.

Best wishes to you too.