Saturday, July 21, 2012

God is Love, and Love is...

It's interesting (and completely understandable) to me how people start asking questions about God's whereabouts when tragedy strikes. It's then that our images of God so often turn out to be incomplete and unhelpful. If my idea of a God, of THE God, is one who keeps everyone safe and alive and comfortable, then what happens when the poop hits the fan?
What I'm suggesting is this: what if it's not God that fails in the hard times, but our understanding of God that falls short? A quick look around shows that God is clearly not a God who keeps us comfortable or safe or even alive. God is not like that, and believing in God that way does not keep anyone alive, safe, or comfortable.
But what if that's okay? What if God can be a God who doesn't make everything okay but still be a God who loves us? Would it be enough for God to be a God who walks with us, who weeps with us, who laughs and celebrates with us? Is the only God worth believing in a God who saves us from all harm and sadness?
If you're like me, then the more you think along these lines, the less comfortable you become with the kind of God that makes everything ok all the time. You start to notice how bad a job that God does, and how unfair the criteria seem to be. Why does this person get a "miracle" and that one doesn't? Why didn't God stop that man from shooting up the theater? Why did he "save" this girl once but not again?
The more I try to understand God, the more complex and simpler it becomes: God is love. Love doesn't fix things, love doesn't save us from harm, love doesn't make everything okay, love doesn't erase suffering. Love loves. God is love, and Love... patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


HerMajesty00 said...

God is love seems so simple/ But what love means....what its definition is for people is very hard. I think most of us want the God definition to be what we think of when we are a child. God as a sort of benevolent Santa.This of course presupposes we had a happy safe childhood/ I often wonder what a starving child in Africa's vision of God is.Or a sexually abused chils od alcoholic parents....God is always so much bigger and simpler than we can ever imagine I guess....

CatholicWizKid said...

This is something I that I think comes up a lot in Youth Ministry! I am constantly trying to figure out how to bridge kids from a theology of "everything happens for a reason" (or Christian Smith's "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism") to something that can sustain them when, as you so eloquently put it, "the poop hits the fan".
I know I was about 19 when I figured out I needed a bigger theology of love, because the God I had imagined was not big enough for what was happening in my life. That is why I love that thing you say to people who say they do not believe in God. You told me that you ask them to describe the God they do not believe in, because that is probably a God you do not believe in either.
So wise.
PS- Is it just me, or does it take a lot of effort to figure out captcha words now? I feel like I am at the optometrist or being tested for membership in Mensa or something.