A universal everyday God


Have you ever seen or heard of someone who has dissected their head of hair looking for one grey hair? Have you ever done it yourself? It is not a “woman thing” – I have seen/heard loads of “mans” do it as well.

And upon – finally – finding one grey hair (amongst thousands of non-grey hairs) there is always the astonished: “Look at this – can you see it?” And then the forlorn punch-line: “I am going grey!”

And forever more the counting, the colouring, the denial of aging … It’s a coming of (old) age thing. It is a tradition almost.

Traditions. So often: “We’ve always done it this way.”

And the church is not immune. In fact the church actively embraces tradition. It seems that religious traditions become religious beliefs, and religious beliefs carry religious consequences. Because religious beliefs are the only thing to differentiate one brand from another (to an insider).

To an outsider (and a lot of insiders) it just seems like “More rules – less God”. Like this one …

“Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.”
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

This particular quote could be of any denomination (this is not a bashing session of one brand). Because different denominations all have similar – but different – tradition and beliefs that they (don’t) call their rule-books. But in truth it is the only thing that makes sense of “denominations” and “faiths” – their “differences” and their rule-books.  Which is why I think denominations like writing down their differences. Just so they know why they are different.

And before someone says: “We only have one rule-book – it is called the bible!” Look again. “The Bible” is similar but different. There are at least three different versions.

But despite all the differences – all seem to need just one consequence (which I find really odd): “Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned … “

And yet the God I hear “ordinary people” talk of is a very simple God. All those ordinary people yet to be saved. All those unchurched ordinary folk. The “sinners” in the “lost world”. With all their “depravity” and “licentiousness” (the ones who refuse to go to church on Sunday). Those ordinary people.

I hear these ordinary people talk of a God of Unconditional Love.

A God who is bigger than “them”. A God of Love who transcends understanding. A God of Mystery who they question. A God that ALLOWS questions. A God who ALLOWS them to get mad at Him, sad with Him, cry with Him, laugh with Him, and to LIVE with Him. Not in the way we live with God. But in an easy everyday sort of way. A simple everyday God who will never be explained to the satisfaction of all.  But who is real in a way we ALL struggle to explain.

Theirs seems to be a loving God who accepts that they turn their back when they are angry – a God who ALLOWS them to – because He is that kind of God. A God who ALLOWS them to be themselves – who wants them to be themselves – a better “them” – a loving “them” – an inclusive “them” – a real “them”.

I know that God too. He and I walked my uneasy walk for decades. Until I was saved. Until I joined the church.

And then? A knee-jerk response of rules that exclude.  And along with that response, the spoken (and unspoken) “loving” statement of consequence. The universal one-size-fits-all consequence.

Being saved is quite an experience!  And with sadness I look around our churches. I look around our towns and cities. Because I see a huge gap.

I see this everyday God in the living of so many who never venture into church. Who never venture into church because they see a god so much smaller than the Everyday God already in their own lives. I see a lot of ordinary people with an Everyday God who don’t see that same loving God in those who attend church.

And – of course – these are all labels and stereotype and generalisations (just like “we” use labels of the “the lost world” and “unchurched – yet” and “saved” and “denominations” and “dogma” and “tradition and beliefs” and stuff like that).

Because just like looking for that one grey hair amongst a fine head of hair …

I see this “church of differences” so often ALL teaching us to look for sin in exactly the same way. I see us taught so often to (symbolically) stand in front of God and (symbolically) dissect the goodness of His Love looking for our one small (literal) sin. All so we can cast it out. Until we find the next one. And then the next one. And so on.

I wonder …

Is that why Love without Condition seems to scare us? Because love without condition needs no rule-books?

Is it because (when we strip everything back) we don’t really want to worship a God of Unconditional Love … because then there would be no need for differences and rule books and “the consequence”?

There are days I find myself asking questions like this … because my God allows.

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13 thoughts on “A universal everyday God

    • Dear SP – thank you for stopping by – another connection to savour! And if your profile/icon picture and your hair colour are the same – “blending in” would be the last thought on my mind. 🙂

  1. “Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned … “
    Yeah, why don’t we bring back cool words like “anathema” and “excommunication” and “heretic”…that will really encourage people back into the fold. Not!

    “I see this everyday God in the living of so many who never venture into church. Who never venture into church because they see a god so much smaller than the Everyday God already in their own lives.”
    Wow. How true! It’s pretty sad that religion makes people’s lives and G.O.D. so small.
    Great insights.

    Btw, I’m just glad when my hair decides to stay. I don’t care what color it is. 🙂

    • Not sure where He is leading me with the latest theme of words and posts. Try to stay “loving” and finding “observational comments” pepper these thoughts.

      (getting some “hair-raising” humour on the topic of heads of hair!) 🙂

  2. Dunno why, but made me think of Lord’s prayer: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Somehow, I can’t fathom God setting down exclusionary rules in heaven, and ever calling out the archangel Michael as a heretic. I mean, aren’t we supposed to be salt and light? Salt is a seasoning that removes bitterness; light dispels darkness; it illuminates and uplifts. I don’t think we’ve got the message when we lock God inside a box of rule books, agendas and penalties.

    • Just like all those questions we will have for God when we get to heaven. And realise when we meet God all those questions will be irrelevant.
      Why do we carry them at all? Why not see God in others and ourself right now? Makes it hard to be exclusionary – makes the rules irrelevant. Maybe.

  3. Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
    I love how you are able to bring everything, including an unconditionally loving “everyday” God back to what is really important in our journey through this natural life with Him and with one another despite our differences —- (ready for it?) —– relationship.

    Here’s a question for you. Why is it so hard for us to realize the simplicity of our Creator’s wishes for us and especially in the light of so many unnecessary differences?

    Great post Brother, as per your usual! I’ve told you before and this IS a compliment, you cause us to think. If we didn’t have something to cause us to fire up those neurons within this magnificent brain our Heavenly Father created for us, what would be the purpose of having one?!!

    God bless you Brother, love (sincerely) and ((hugs)) back at you!

    • “Why is it so hard for us to realize the simplicity of our Creator’s wishes for us and especially in the light of so many unnecessary differences?”

      What a great question, Roland – thank you so much!

      My answer is simple (I hope). Because we assign “our Creator” this simplicity ad then become embarrassed at our “simplicity”. We yearn for the safety of eternal relationship in unconditional love – but then need to disguise that in sophistication and grown-up thinking. We buy-into all that the world offers, all the quick fixes that require us to spend rather than do, and we live that life certain it must deliver what it promises. Before finding out it does not. Before finding we have been sucked in and spat out – just with less money than we started. And we do not like looking foolish and gullible – maybe a victim – but never foolish. So we blame and we avoid and we deny.

      And at some point we are faced with a decision. The simplicity and surrender of unconditional love, or the complexity and control of conditional love. And just like a caterpillar must before being a butterfly, so often we prefer to remain with the certainty and limitations of a caterpillar rather than the unknown and vulnerability of “dying to caterpillar” and becoming a butterfly.

      And so long as so many “religious butterflies” continue to be “buzzing bluebottles” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_bottle_fly) who spread disease everywhere they feed – who can blame “the caterpillars”?

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