Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Incredible Shrinking God
Maybe it's the news about the Mount Dora (FL) High School Social Studies teacher and his Facebook postings this summer declaring that God opposes same-sex marriage.
Maybe it's just daily living in the land of the church marquee signs.
Whatever "it" is, I have been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which we try to shrink God down to matchbox size. Make God small enough so we can carry our deity in our pockets and pull out this "God possession" to back whatever agenda we have developed for the Almighty.
Christianity is really good at this making of the miniature God. I can understand why that is. We acknowledge that Jesus Christ was fully human and fully divine, Emmanuel--God among us--during his time on the planet. And for some Christians, Jesus becomes so much the focus of their belief in God that they somehow miss the part where he tells Mary at the tomb to not hold onto him for he has not ascended to the Father (John 20: 15-18). Or perhaps they didn't hear in the words of Jesus that they shouldn't form such an attachment to his flesh and blood self that they are deaf to his words when he says "whatever you do to the least of these you do to me." They fail to see him existing in our fellow brothers and sisters, both Christian and non-Christian. There is a desire to clutch hold of Christ, so much so that he never gets off the cross, never is resurrected and certainly never ascends. And he becomes the "personal" Lord and Savior for tons of people. Suddenly, Jesus becomes the claimed instead of the one claiming us.
And God has been shrunk to fit inside our own personal pocket agenda! Now that we've got God, we are invincible and we are convinced of our own b.s.
This is not the kind of God I worship. And this is not the Jesus I believe to be the Son of God, the incarnation of God among us.
For me, God was only giving us a glimpse of God's self when Jesus came into the world to live and die as one of us. The Jesus example was a mission of reclamation of those who had let too many "things" get between them and the God who had been with them and their ancestors in every moment of light and darkness. And through Jesus, God was breaking down a barrier between Heaven and Earth and allowing us to see how all people are the threads in the fabric of God's tapestry. Whether someone accepts Jesus as God or not, his mission was to draw us all back to a Love that is so large and wide and deep that we will never find its bottom or its top. That Love is so enormous that--as the bumper sticker says-- it's too big to fit inside one religion.
If I were allowed to turn back time and sit at the First Council of Nicea, I might have duked it out with the attendees and insisted on a creed that goes:
We believe in one incredibly huge God
who loves us all to the ends of the earth and beyond.
And in God's Son, Jesus Christ,
The incarnation of God and bearer of the Good News
That we are loved more than tongue can tell nor pen can write.
Born of Mary. Lived with us. Died for us.
Rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit who gives us our breath in our bodies
To be the living home of God in the world.
And because we believe, we will strive to live
Remembering that we belong to God.
Thanks be to a God that would do all this and more
to be in relationship with us! Amen.