In the previous blog, I started to talk about the fact that taking the Bible too literally could lead to problems in our interpretation. I explained that examining how I feel about my children helps me understand how God must feel about His children. I am certainly not God and I don’t tell Him how to act; but God at least has to be better than me or my theology is all in vain.
Here are two more examples of what I mean.
We are originally good. Our second grandchild was born today. He was c-section and born about 8 weeks early. I have to delay this blog because I’m not really supposed to talk about him publicly yet. His mom wants to announce him to the world in her own way and I respect that. One thing I know, when I see Jackson face-to-face I will have one primary thought — I will think “perfection.” What I mean by that is not that he is perfect, but that he is innocent and good and precious. I won’t see evil in his demeanor–in a way, I will see God when I look at him. Every parent knows exactly what I mean.
It’s much like, during the creation story, when God looked at creation and said several times, “it was good.” After man was created, he looked at His creation and says “very good.” When I look at a baby, I think “this is good!” It is such a miracle–such an expression of innocence–such a thing of beauty.
A popular religious belief is that we are originally bad. I don’t think we can deduce that from the creation story and we can’t conclude it from looking at our own children. God the Father doesn’t hide behind Jesus to look at us. I believe he looks at us like I will look at my grandson, Jackson. He looks at us like I see my granddaughter, Hollyn, when I sing Avett brothers songs to her.
Think about this deeply – I am paraphrasing what I heard Richard Rohr said in a podcast. God is not trying to create a new version of ourselves because we were originally bad. God is trying to remove the false self we have accumulated and and return us to our true self that is originally good.
God is not an unreasonable parent.
When I was a young parent, I thought it was my job to push my kids to be “more.” Whatever that means! I felt like they needed me to focus on their performance and try to push them to new heights. But even today, it is tempting to go too far with this model. When I think about how things will look and how it will reflect on me, I can very easily push them, not to excellence, but to frustration.
Most of us were probably taught that God has a high standard. A very high standard. This “mark” or expectation is basically unreachable. But, it goes further than that. God should know that this standard is unreachable, but it drives him absolutely insane when we can’t meet this standard. It makes Him so angry that He dreams of tormenting us forever. It reminds me of parents in the stands of athletic events dreaming of their children’s performance and absolutely loosing their minds! “This is not what we expect from you,” they yell at the top of their lungs. I used to believe this is how God felt about our sin – then, I noticed what Jesus did. I saw that he looked upon people with compassion.
As my children grew older, I learned that some of my expectations were unrealistic. But, even when my expectations were realistic and achievable, my children sometime missed the mark. When I adopted a more Christlike attitude, I found that I had more compassion for them not more angers toward them. If I can grow into that, I’m sure God is already like that.
I remember a Bible verse that says, “Don’t exasperate your children.” I don’t remember one that gives God the same injunction–maybe because He doesn’t need one.
I think I have more to say, but we’ll save it for another day.