Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent 2014

Tuesday, December 16


             From earliest times humankind has attempted to understand God and to know God's purpose for our lives.  Limited as we are by our humanity, we have done this in the only way we thought we could - by forming God in our image.  We know that we cannot comprehend the greatness of God, but deep within us lies the desire to understand more about the one who created us, and our role as the process of creation continues.

When we say "the Lord is my shepherd," we have taken a human image and applied it to God, anticipating that anyone who knows what a shepherd does will also apply those attributes to God.  Although such analogies are limited, they help us convey important ideas when our language fails us.  Perhaps the most frequently used comparison for God is as a parent.  Jesus referred to God as father, and so have many generations of Christians.

For those of us fortunate enough to have been raised by loving parents, we have no difficulty thinking of God as our parent - caring, encouraging, and forgiving.  But what about those individuals who were abused, ignored, or abandoned by their parents?  Is it any wonder that they have difficulty thinking of God as mother or father? 

We tend to accept what we're taught to believe about God as irrefutable, only to question later the truth of what we were taught.  Wars are waged because various groups of people are taught that God wants them to subdue their enemies.  Entire cultures are eradicated from the face of the earth by fanatics quoting their religion's holy books.

We have been taught that God loves every person equally and unconditionally.  But could it be that even that basic tenet of Christianity is yet another example of our making God in our image?  Because we have clear expectations of how a good human parent should act, we assume with confidence that God should act the same way, only to a much greater degree.

Is it possible that by seeking to comprehend God, we have unconsciously limited our ability to see God's continuing work in the world?  Have we given up trying to know God better by simply accepting a god we can explain in our limited human terms?  Perhaps if we were to remove the human labels we have assigned, we might be able to expand our understanding, and take a big step toward allowing God to be God!

- James Richardson


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