What God are We Talking About?

How do we define God? Humankind has been asking that question since the first human entertained the thought that there was some entity beyond himself.

No doubt Christians are directed to an answer in the first creation story, where the writer announces that God has made  man in “our” image.

We took from that, simplistically, that God must look like us, and certainly if one looks to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, one would agree. God indeed is just a “super” man.

And one thing generally leads to another and in this case, we naturally found it easy to conclude that God thinks as we do, and well, wants what we want.

Given that as humans, we all want a lot of things, I suppose that once in a while some of us hit the mark.

Isaiah reminds us that when we try to make God think as we do, we are surely in trouble.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Sadly, we seldom remember that warning. We all too often assume that God is understandable in the same way that we understand our spouse, our children, or our boss at work. We think that God not only thinks in the same manner that we do, but we ascribe the same emotions and psychological motivations to the Godhead.

We may not always do this consciously, for we do remember Isaiah, but subconsciously, we almost always forget. We think God is rooting for us to win the tennis match, and that God is pulling for us to get this job. We tend for forget, that at the other end is our tennis opponent, and someone else in need of a job, and that they are operating under the same assumption.

So is God choosing between us? Hardly.

God has no favorites, according to Jesus. God only uplifts and calls us to become the greatness that has been present within us from all time.

According to Jesus, God is about love and justice. He is for raising all of his children to their perfect potential. In infinite wisdom, if we each perform to our best ability in all things, then naturally all will work out for the best. The more physically capable on a given day will win the match, the most qualified, the job.

There is nothing unfair in this. If we lose, we can practice more, or we can seek more training. Or we can find a more suitable recreation or job, one that we are most qualified for.

God is about global, or intergalactic things, not our silly preference for this team or that to win a contest this Sunday. Of course it’s just not a matter of “the just thing will win out.” There are plenty of other variables that sometimes must also align. That is part of life. Bad things happen to good people.

Still, by not expecting God to grant our “righteous” request, we don’t place upon God that which is not his burden. We don’t declare ourselves still “too sinful” to succeed and redouble our prayers and spiritual regimen. We seek the true reasons for our failure and do what we can, if we can, to correct them.

Are you seeking the superman God or some other? ” What God are you talking about?
**Isaiah 55:8-9



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 02:47:33

    Sherry, I’ve been traveling like a madman lately–and oh I’ve missed these weekly sojourns here! It’s nice to be home!

    Reading this planted a new thought for me: what is the psychology of God? Particularly we in the post-Freudian age are bound to the idea that behavior and mindset are reactive; either past gratification or threat engender patterns, etc. But since (as Jesus reminds us over and over) God’s nature and kingdom are counterintuitive to ours, could it not be that God’s psychology is proactive–that God’s ways and thoughts are shaped a priori to cosmic events?

    That would explain why God’s ways and thoughts are distinctly not ours. Perhaps rather than “above your thoughts,” the Isaiah text might more accurately read, “ahead of” or “before your thoughts.” That might also help us wrap our heads around the impenetrable conflict between divine sovereignty and free will. It may be less about God knowing and controlling (ergo, creating) our future than God infallibly anticipating a future manifested consequent to our thoughts and deeds.

    Since I’m perilously close to sounding like an annoyingly stoned sophomore here, I’ll let this go before it gets more muddled than it already is. OK, well, maybe one more thought.

    If God’s instincts and intelligence are proactive, would not divine justice also be proactive? Would it not be meted out intuitively rather than empirically? Wouldn’t it be informed by an inchoate future rather than governed by a defined past and present? If this is so, then God’s judgments (good and bad) are preemptive rather than retributive. Hence Scripture’s relentless emphasis on repentance, turning around, not looking back, redemption, reconciliation, fresh starts, newness, etc. Thus our eagerness to judge others based on their past/current behaviors exceeds hubris (though it is mighty bold of us to imagine we can judge anyone). Our judgments are thoroughly uninformed, as they’re altogether absent of God’s proactive intuitions.

    And to think my original comment on your wonderful-as-always piece was, “We have to remember that judging judgers is still judging”! Sorry about the blather. I hope there’s a sliver of sense in there somewhere…

    Blessings, dear friend,


    • Sherry
      Sep 27, 2011 @ 11:48:19

      Tim, I simply love your thoughts here. We can never take into account anything but a tiny sliver of the total reality that God is immersed in. And I also like the idea that God’s justice is designed to help us to move forward to a new and better life, a new and better thinking, and a new and better acting. Oh I do depend on you so very much to help me see more broadly and deeply.


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