I read this morning in my devotion a quote from C.S. Lewis. He wrote of us as human beings preferring a God who acted much like our nice old grandfather, often being the one to spoil us a bit, seldom if ever disciplining us, and always reflecting a joyful peace that is comforting, never controlling. Lewis reflected that the Scriptures claim that God is love, and yet his, mine, and our, view of love much more reflect the benevolent Grandfather God than what we actually get. He wrote this in conclusion of the thought, “I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have a reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.” (From: The Problem of Pain)
We are beings who continuously seek to understand the universe on our terms. Why do bad things happen? Why is there mystery in creation, in biology, in astronomy? It is the ever present why of humanity that cause us to doubt, to fall away, to grow distant, bitter, and confrontational. Why if God says that He is Love, does He not do things that I would consider loving?
The universe needs redefinition. Perhaps instead of asking why God does not follow through with our expectations we should be asking a very different why: why were are expectations so different from God’s that we were surprised?
I think that Gospels are filled with these instances. We think that these antiquated books have little to do with our life today and in actuality, life hasn’t changed all that much. Look at just a sampling of the whys posed to Jesus: Why can you heal people when today is supposed to be a day of rest? Why do forgive someone before you heal him or her? Why does your religious practice look different than ours? Why is your interpretation different? Why don’t you save yourself? Why do you let these people kill you? On and on and on…
God must get tired of us. I mean, I would if I were he. We think we corner him, we think we figure him out, we think we have gotten him in a box, and just then, just when we believe we have everything figured out, we find out that we need to redefine how we see God, how we see love, we need to redefine the universe. We find ourselves like Peter, one moment confessing that Jesus is God and the next being reprimanded for not actually realizing what Jesus as God actually means.
We like to put God in our nice little packaging. It makes our life easier. Following a set of rules, a list of principles and practices… that’s pretty easy to do and pretty easy to check off. Following the living breathing, moving, active God, that takes a little more work. And since like me, you might be a little lazy, we find ourselves like the Pharisees, first trying to correct how God acts instead of correcting ourselves, and what we believe the Christian life is all about.
God is Spontaneous. That’s the thrilling part about faith. Often Christianity is criticized for monotony but it may the only truly spontaneous thing left in the universe. How else do you explain businessmen giving up high powered jobs to become missionaries, Students devoting their time, money, and efforts to ending hunger, people sacrificing their health and freedom to hold underground church services, the average person offering a random act of kindness for a stranger.
The truth is, if your faith isn’t spontaneous… you might need to ask how closely you are actually following Jesus. Religion has been the proverbial definition of structure for 2,000 years, but perhaps we need to redefine what this thing called “faith” is really all about.
God can’t be Fedexed. We can’t put him in a box so we know what he is all about. Yet sadly that is what our definition of God has been for too long. If all we do, all we say, all we are should be a reflection of who God is, then we need a new definition. The universe needs to be redefined.