In this blog I question many of the beliefs I once had, particularly how literally to take the Bible. There are still several loose threads which have the potential to further change my theology. I’m still struggling through those, and it may take a while before I’m done with them.
For now, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what I’ve still hung on to:
I’m still fully convinced that there is a God who is not only omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, but also all loving. [That statement alone opens up a whole theological debate that has raged for millennia: how can an all-loving and all-powerful God allow so much suffering in this world?]
He is ultimately responsible for the origin of everything in our universe, and possibly many other parallel universes, and has a twinkle in his eye when it comes to mankind: made in his own image.
He wants to have a relationship with us, and wants us to enjoy a relationship with him, and to enjoy all creation with him. But he’s not going to force himself on us. He much more enjoys watching our feeble and inconsistent attempts to understand him, and rewards all serious attempts to find him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13); he speaks to us in a still small voice.
As much as he wants us to ‘walk in the garden’ with him, we are limited in so many ways. We’re mortal, not eternal. We’re too often plagued by selfish motives, self-destructive desires. Too often, our dealings with our fellow human are less than honorable. We don’t love enough, respect enough, care enough. We know that people are hurting in so many ways all around us, and we’re content to let that go on rather than make a change: this is the sin of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49-50). And that’s in part how we’ve “fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So God has to change us, from the inside. Create a whole new heart and mind … “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2). To do this, he sent Jesus to show us the way: complete self-sacrifice; utter commitment to others; an unrelenting effort to make those changes for the better in ourselves and in the world; total passion to commune with God. Of course, all too often we fail on all four accounts. And for those little things (and perhaps some big things) that we’ve done which leave a stain of guilt and give others valid cause to accuse us and demand a penalty, he’s chosen to take the blame himself and pay whatever price it takes to restore fellowship, even if that price is his own death. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
And once we’ve come to realize the extent of his love for us and have accepted his free gift of forgiveness and restoration, he sends us back out to continue the work of restoring the world back to himself. Not just preaching a message, but also getting our hands dirty and cleaning up the mess and fixing the brokenness all around us. [As an aside, I feel this is part of the answer to that last question I raised in the paragraph above: when we scream at God “how can you allow all this suffering in the world?”, his answer back to us is “how can you allow all this suffering in the world? Let’s work together to change that.”] We can continue on our own self-absorbed way, concerned more and more about making our own life happy and comfortable, even while people around us suffer, sometimes as a result of our selfish pursuit of personal comfort; in the end, we ourselves become responsible for creating hell on earth.
Or we can choose to collaborate with God in making it all new again.