Which God Are We Talking About?
I've been watching way too much news lately, mostly surrounding the political machinations that are taking place in Washington DC as the 118th Congress took days to perform what is usually a simple task: elect the Speaker of the House.
Not surprisingly, the algorithms for social media picked up on this, and suddenly my social media feeds have been flooded with all kinds of political posts. Sigh.
I can't recall a time in my life when things have been so fractured and messed up in American politics.
The level of acrimony between the political parties is at an all-time high. There's more grandstanding than governing. There are more stunts than substance.
And on top of everything, far too many politicians assume that God is on their side and only on their side when it comes to the various issues they decide to champion---most of which have little to do with the well-being of our country and its citizens.
There have been so many times over the past week when I've watched videos of some politician or another bloviating about their pet peeve of the moment and then invoking God's name in vain to lend some righteousness to their claim.
The last time I checked, God hasn't revealed God's political affiliation, but if God did, it would be "None of The Above."
I feel like so many of us fall into the trap of assuming we understand the mind of God. We succumb to what theologian and author Pete Enns calls "The Sin of Certainty." We decide that our thoughts are God's thoughts, our opinions shared by the Almighty.
And we leave very little room for our minds to be changed, our opinions reversed, and our belief that we are on the side of the angels to be challenged.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote:
"...a god that can be fashioned, a god that can be confined is but a shadow of a man."
Here's a primer on how we can all determine whether our thoughts, opinions, or beliefs align with what we know about a God that is beyond our comprehension.
If our beliefs in any way dehumanize or deny the image of God in another human being, God isn't behind them.
If our beliefs or opinions are laced with hate, bigotry, violence, or falsehood, God isn't behind them.
If the god we describe looks precisely like us, it's not God that we're describing.
If our beliefs privilege the few over the many, God isn't behind that either.
We can't begin to understand the nature of God, but what we can know is that God is for everyone, God is love, and God desires all to live in abundance. God longs for the shalom of God to be manifest in every heart, person, and everywhere.
This is what Jesus taught through his words, deeds, and willingness to take on the worst the world had to offer and still show love, forgiveness, and mercy.
May those of us striving to live by Jesus' example do so with grace and humility, just as he did. May we check our beliefs and opinions about God through the lens of Christ himself. May we do our best to align them with God's purposes and presence.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.