“I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
How odd is God. Evidently incomparable given he is the invisible Entity who has left us no unambiguous trace of his existence, except for a handful of written witnesses illustrating what he is up to. Ask anyone who has struggled with the idea of God. It would seem he casts himself as arbitrary and unapproachable. We can warrant some level of critique regarding those notions. God hasn’t made his reality as slam dunk as mathematical proof. Clues exist out there of some ultimate purpose, of mystery, of ultimate intelligence and goodness, all variably open to interpretation. Are we missing out on something? Shouldn’t God be visible and tangible? Maybe that kind of God would be susceptible to manipulation and abuse, not unlike this past week’s baby dolphin craze.
God let me take a selfie with you in it! Wouldn’t we suffocate him in the attempt to rub shoulders, literally? Where could we possible contain him should there be no boundaries between him and us ? How we approach God demonstrate the extent of our deviance. Should he be like us, compliant to our whims and lack of restraint, God would be subject to our domestication: have him wear a male bikini while shirtless and flexing muscles at the beach, have him sit for an interview and queue him with a barrage of silly questions, Instagram him on 360 degree views, paparazzi him, invite him over for pizza and beer and request that he pull a few tricks off his sleeve, have him endorse and glamorize our favorite Sunday morning religion, endorse our fashion and fads, have him bless the wonderful purpose of our lives…..
Trouble is we humans tend to swing to the polar of depraved thinking and disposition. For many the opposite of the Midas touch is norm, rather than the exception. We tend to destroy and harass what we touch. Why, we want to franchise and take advantage of every golden opportunity, even when our understanding and intentions are misguided. We want God to be our idol, not our Lord. The tendency of mortals is to craft God in our image and likeness: The God of my religion. The God of my ring-wing/left-wing politics. The God of my capitalist economy. The God of my flag. The God of my tribe. The God of my romance. The God of ME.
The quest to subject and acquire things represent relentless and coveted pursuits that keep achievers (and alas thieves!) awake at night. The temptation to reach transcendence, Godhood, divinity, whatever, has not reasonable let up for those with ulterior ambitions. Granted the opportunity, some would seek to dethrone God (Isaiah 14:14; Genesis 3:6,22). God resists that. A line has to be traced, not just in religion, but in every aspect of living. God won’t be confined. He can’t. We expect kids to grow up and become adults, not the reverse. God abhors walls of limitation and vetoes down boxes of neat categorization that dictate what he ought and not to do (i.e. God should answer every prayer, stop every hurricane, grant me this job right now). We think we have God all figured out and safely tucked in our Bible on that sanctimonious two hour block weekend charade. Not so. God is loose and dangerous. He doesn’t think he is us. The world constitutes God’s arena for the display of his power, not the circus ring where he juggles to our endless entertainment and pleasure, on demand. He is the Lion of the jungle, not the bird in the cage. The wholly Other God refuses to be our pet, the baby dolphin on the sun-drenched beach. My proposal therefore is that to get our religion right, we ought to let God be God.