Tuesday, August 7, 2007
God and me: why I don't get it and why that's ok
Life is a funny thing…I know, tell you something you don’t already know…but its full of contradictions and problems and triumphs and sadness and regret and all kinds of other things. I have been feeling these a lot lately, the different elements of life that is, and its got me all confused. Since getting back from Europe and the east coast I have been wondering at what God has for me, what I should be doing, how my life’s story is supposed to be told. And I am not sure how it fits, but lately I have been thinking a lot about God, and what an abstract and ridiculous concept the whole thing is. I mean really, there are times when I talk about God like he is a vacuum that I am trying to sell, like he is this incredible invisible product that all my friends need. And then I think about things like the enlightenment, and the whole scientific reason thing, and I think, “there is no way to absolutely prove God, to absolutely prove what I have been selling all these years.” I mean, my faith is by no means blind, or untried, but what it comes down to is that scientifically you can prove many things, but you can’t use science to get to or prove God. And if you ever did, God wouldn’t be God. I think that the nature of God is mystery. I can’t explain why I have the capacity to understand beauty, or why I feel pain or anger or joy, I just do. And so in a way, this is how I understand God, and my relationship to him; that he is on a vertical plane of existence and I am on a horizontal, and you can’t prove the existence of anything on the vertical because its not quantifiable, its not measurable, it doesn’t add up to enlightenment principles. Well, anyway, that’s that.
And I have also been thinking a lot about the Bible lately, and how I read it. I heard someone say the other day that Jesus didn’t come to start Christianity, and I thought that this was very beautiful and true because that means that Jesus didn’t have any agenda or hidden motives other than loving people. He wasn’t out to start a major world religion, he came simply to tell people and show them that God loved them. And I think that we get so caught up in reading each verse in the Bible like it has some secret magic in it, a key to unlocking some passage of our hearts, that we miss the overarching message that is screaming to be heard. Notice that Jesus tells stories, he talks in metaphor, he speaks in poetry and prose. He doesn’t give us lists or formulas, although sometimes I wish he did. So why? I wondered, if the sermon I hear in church on Sunday comes with a list or a formula for living a happier life why didn’t Jesus just give us that himself? Why did he always respond with questions and tell stories? But I think that his message isn’t a formula, it isn’t a four-step program to happiness, it’s a story about God loving people. The Bible, I think, is nothing more than stories about people’s encounters with God. So I realized that I have been reading all wrong, that I have been thinking about things all wrong, and I took some time to read through stories and not perform literary surgery on each verse. I can’t tell you how freeing that was. It was freedom from religion and boxed in formulas, it was simply relational, and I loved that.
So being back here is weird, its back to my job, school, responsibility, stuff like that. But I once heard someone say that life is like fine wine, it won't appeal to children. And I think that is true, life is what it is, it is difficult, and at some point in time I will have to come to terms with that. But I also think that life is full of adventure, and hope, and truth. And the truth of it is that you and I are deeply spiritual beings, deeply spiritual people, and whether we acknowledge it or not doesn't make it any less true. So I don't want to deny that to myself any more, because embracing spirituality, not religion, has made my life more complete.