We have always said, my wife and I, that our children will never truly appreciate us as parents until they have their own family. Until they have children of their own. And this third Sunday on Lent: is that also true of us “believers” as well?
Will we ever truly appreciate “God” until we grow up – create His children – become parents on His behalf (or at least “grow up” a lot)?
Because I was brought up with three Gods not One: God the Father. God the Son. And God the Holy Spirit. All three were different: God the Father came first as was evidenced in creation and the Old Testament. God the Son was born a babe as was evidenced in the New Testament. And God the Holy Spirit only happened when the other two left – that one lives in us now (even though we don’t pray to that one – we pray to God the Father … through God the Son). Which is confusing for a young chap. But young chaps accept what they are told. Young chaps do what they are told. That is how good things happen – us young chaps are taught.
As I have grown older I have seen lot of words written about this Holy Trinity. I have read lots of different opinions about what this means to us “Christians.” But I have been told that I must believe the belief (opinion?) of this or that denomination and creed. But I have asked questions and have become an oddball – been told that I simply need to become a mature (educated?) Christian (which sounds a lot like “re-educated” to me) – that I should become better versed in the “Christian tradition” (whatever that is).
“At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them-do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’
Jesus dealt with this “angry God” a lot. The establishment who taught an angry God. The one who demanded “repent or die” – where one worshipped in very specific and ritualistic ways.
“Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ‘” Luke 13:1-9
Parables. What Jesus did so often: here is a picture – make of it what you will.
I am not sure if I am parent on behalf of God yet. I am not even sure if I am good “Family Member”. But this I do know: God Soft Hands Jesus is real to me today.
GSHJ listens and speaks to me today. Sometimes through the Word that is living (the bible), or through others He is within, and sometimes through everyday objects, and sometimes through a still quiet voice (and sometimes with a very loud and assertive “invitation”). GSHJ does not “fix my life” to be perfect. GSHJ does not insulate me from pain. GSHJ does not hide me from loss. And I thank Him for that. It means each of us has choice (not just me) – the choice to draw close, or the choice to withdraw – the choice to live and love.
Because that is how I want to love and be loved. And so I see and hear GSHJ sometimes as God, sometimes as Jesus, and sometimes as the Holy Spirit – but always as GSHJ. I am not talking to one or the other. I am not hearing one or the other. I am not in a relationship with one or the other – and I do not love “one or the other” above “one or the other”. GSHJ is “just God”!
So I wonder why so many seem to need three Gods – teach three Gods. I wonder why there must be one “inerrant” understanding. I wonder why I am taught so often that “God the Father” is really too high-octane for me. That I need lower-octane God the Son (Jesus). Because if I was exposed to God the Father I would be fried (He is so high-octane)! That I should be happy with the lower-octane God the Son.
(except that is always expressed in academic theological language)
Yet I look at the Old Testament …
I see those who heard, spoke and conversed with GSHJ. And I see many who did not. I look at the New Testament and see many who did (and did not). And I look around me today and still see those who do (and so many who do not). And I hear many who (still) blame God for everything bad in their own lives and the world. Just as they did in the Old Testament – and also in the New. It’s always been this way.
And as a parent … ?
Is that not how young (and not so young) children see their own parents? Insulated children, loved children, children who have yet to understand the world does not revolve around them: Daddy always says yes/no. Mummy always says yes/no. I get told off when I am bad. I have to be good to get nice things. Jenny’s mummy is nice, mine gets cross. If I ask nicely usually I get what I want. My family is better/worse than your family. Susan has a new bike, it’s not fair that I can’t. I hate/love you!
And if I listen carefully – how much of that language do I often hear in church, in hymns, in the teaching, in the prayers … in the habits, in the routines … in the this is how we have always done it, in the absence of questions, in the slice and dice we are still encouraged to do – which always reinforces my OT angry God, and my NT loving God? And why must I be content with the “lower octane one” – with that “this is as good as it gets” relationship. Why?
I want more. I desire more. I demand more. I want to love and be loved without this Christian tradition “inerrancy” getting in the way. And I wonder –
Is this even something I can even say during Lent?