Friday, 15 March 2013

Habemus communicationis defection est! Part II

Habemus communicationis defection est!  Still.

I was chatting with my son late last night and he quoted somebody who said something that somebody else has said to me earlier in the day...and so my mind got stuck there, even as my son likely revealed the secrets of the universe to me or what to expect from the new season of MadMen.

If God was speaking through the Cardinals when the elected the Pope, then why weren't they unanimous in their voting?

A fair question.
But one that reveals a certain understanding of God, that I do not share.

For many people this talk of “God” is about a great big bearded man in the sky, throwing lightning bolts, pulling strings, occasionally mooning Moses (look it up) and watching over Justin Beiber’s career.  With time and sophistication, we've moved away from the lightning bolts, most of us “the man” and a few of us “the beard”…. But we stick with the God who pulls strings.  A master marrionettist who makes Cardinals vote. 

I sometimes struggle with my understanding of God.  Do I choose a distant, removed clock maker who put thing in motion and then disappeared?  An eternal kid tapping on the glass of a giant ant farm?  Why would the creator such an elegant design as the universe, break in from time to time and suspend the very laws and machinations so lovingly created?   Tough to choose; hard to figure out...

What I do know is that the God that Jesus reveals is not coercive.  We can talk one day about the nature of Jesus humanity, divinity and combination skin, but for now, let’s agree that somehow, someway, Jesus reveals the nature and intent of God – either because he is so begotten, or because he’s very careful and intentional in all his actions.  Looking at Jesus very carefully tells Christians something about God… in fact, studying or following Jesus informs Christians about God more than studying or following anybody else.   
Jesus is not coercive.   
You can search the text and find a sentence that might be in tension with my assertion, but by and large – Jesus is not, himself coercive and so reveals that God is not coercive.   Jesus asks people if they want to be healed, he doesn't just show up and take leprosy away (no matter what Monty Python says)… He doesn't demand, he invites the rich man to give up his wealth… Jesus teaches in parables, inviting people to wonder and think for themselves… He doesn't impose a new order, he invites people to consider their own lives and traditions..  Not coercive, always persuasive.

That’s how I believe that God acts in the world: Persuasively.  Not pulling strings, but speaking to me from within; catching my eye and moving my heart from without; engaging my imagination and helping me to see new possibilities… to that end, almost all of my decisions are in fact, mine.  (except where my wife is involved… but that’s for the best).  My decisions are mine, influenced by God, but ultimately an expression of Norm in relation to God.  Which means that I am likely to make a different decision than Cardinal Thomas Collins  (how great is it to have a gin and lemon Cardinal?  But, I digress…)
For me, it’s almost the lack of unanimity that’s affirming to me.  It reveals to me God who is persuasive, not coercive; not imposing, but inviting… the very God that I find in the stories and experience of Jesus.

So, now... off to call my son and figure out what he was talking about last night...

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