February 15, 2019
The most important element in the Third Millennial Reformation is something I have not yet touched on: a contemporary spirituality. As a good friend said recently: “we need a reform in the direction of contemplative consciousness/living/being: Teaching people not just prayers but an experience of prayer.” Without this, whatever we do will end up superficial.
This week-end therefore, a reflection about God, from a spiritual master whom I greatly respect: Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He posted this on his website in July 2014.
It takes a long time for us to allow God to be who God really is.
Our natural egocentricity wants to make God into who we want or need God to be. It’s the role of the prophet to keep people free for God. But at the same time it’s the responsibility of the prophet to keep God free for people. This is also the role of good theology, and why we still need good theology even though it sometimes gets heady.
If God is always mystery, then God is always on some level the unfamiliar, beyond what we’re used to, beyond our comfort zone, beyond what we can explain or understand.
In the fourth century, St. Augustine said, “If you comprehend it, it’s not God.” Would you respect a God you could comprehend? And yet very often that’s what we want—a God who reflects our culture, our biases, our economic, political, and military systems.
The First Commandment says that we’re not supposed to make any images of God or to worship them. At first glance, we may think this deals only with handmade likenesses of God. But it mostly refers to images of God that we hold in our heads. God created human beings in God’s own image, and we’ve returned the compliment, so to speak, creating God in our image. In the end we produced what was typically a tribal God. In America, God looks like Uncle Sam or Santa Claus, or in any case a white Anglo-Saxon male, even though it states in Genesis 1:27 that “God created humankind in God’s own image; male and female God created them.” That clearly states that God cannot be strictly or merely masculine.
Normally we find it very difficult to let God be a God who is greater than our culture, our immediate needs, and our projections.
The human ego wants to keep things firmly in its grasp; and so we’ve created a God who fits into our small systems and our understanding of God. Thus, we’ve required a God who likes to play war just as much as we do, and a domineering God because we like to dominate.
We’ve almost completely forgotten and ignored what Jesus revealed about the nature of the God he knew. If Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) then God is nothing like we expected. Jesus is in no sense a potentate or a patriarch, but the very opposite, one whom John the Baptist calls “a lamb of a God” (John 1:29).