The Gods we love most are the ones we can comprehend and control.
- The God who is the same size as our theology.
- The God who keeps us safe no matter what.
- The God who loves what we love and hates what we hate.
- The God who only saves people who believe the right way.
- The God whom we can wrap our minds around.
- The God who controls everything.
- The God who prioritizes our comfort and ease.
- The God who is predictable.
- The God who is male.
- The God who can be won over by our good behavior.
- The God who fits within our understanding of the Bible.
- The God who never lets us doubt.
- The God who loves hierarchy, especially the kind that privileges us.
- The God who never surprises.
St. John tells us about a first-century theologian named Nicodemus who went one night to investigate Jesus’ orthodoxy. Like many of us, Nicodemus thought he had a good handle on the Almighty. But Jesus’ words took the legs out from under the Pharisee. Most alarming was this declaration:
“God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from, nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Doing theology is rather like a child playing with a kite — a toy made of sticks, paper, glue, a ball of string. But in the right conditions a simple kite flies, at least for a while.
The thrill of it: seeing your kite take off, lifted in good wind, pulling more string, stretching across the sky, dancing in air. Yet always tethered to your hand.
The wind, though, always free, inevitably betrays a kite: going calm, blowing too hard, blasting downdrafts. Kites are never clever enough to keep altitude forever. They so easily lose the wind, or catch too much of it. Paper tears, frame cracks, trees attack, or the ground claims them. Every time. Kites are fun while they last, but temporary playthings in the breeze.
And so it is with our theology, too: catching an idea in the wind, thrilling with the updraft of insight, sharing the joy of thoughts stringing through fingers, but never, never able, to own the wind.
We are forever flying our theological kites. That is how it should be. So long as we remember that we’re just children at play.
Photograph by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.
4 thoughts on “The Gods We Love the Most”
Bob, I love your blog, old friend! But you left one out, the false god I am most guilty of courting right now. “The god who should do exactly as I wish about my retirement funds in stocks.” I am not joking as this tiresome ongoing struggle has gone on with me for about 3 years. Well, maybe I still have hope.. My mother died at 93.
Yes, that’s a good one. I can relate to the struggle. My mom just turned 96, so I may also have a few decades on the journey ahead. Great to hear from you.
Your blog is very thought provoking. I had to read it again , and I am pretty sure I will have to read it again. The thought that he must fit within “our/ my” understanding of the Bible is one that pricks my heart. I have been a little perplexed lately by the fact that I can perfectly quote God’s word to him, but He acts as though he isn’t obligated. The fact is, He isn’t obligated to me for anything. I know he has called me down on the carpet about this, but my ego chaffs against his whispers. Patience seems to be something I have thrown overboard lately. Helmut Thielicke once asked, and I paraphrase: “Was it God who failed, really failed, or merely my expectations of God that failed?” That’s a tough question that I have had to ask myself very often in the last 3 years. -By the way, Dr. James Flamming’s book: “Healing the Heartbreak of Grief,” is a super excellent book available on Amazon, and I am only three chapters into it,
Excellent observations and questions. Thanks.