Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Does God Think of Us?

This week's scriptures are Genesis 1:1-2:4a (and probably 2:4b-2:9), Psalm 8, and Matthew 28: 16-20.

First of all, I'd like to thank the folks who commented on last week's blog. Kara's comments about creating a space where things can happen and Jeremy's comments about the need for us to risk vulnerablility are important lead-in's to this week's conversation.

I would maintain that one of the reasons that most of us find it so difficult to risk vulnerability...with God, with others, even with ourselves...is that we tend to see ourselves as being judged rather than embraced. Another way to put it is that we do not believe that people (or God) will embrace/love us unless we are some how "good enough" to deserve that love.

Even when we give 'lip service' to the idea of God's love being free, unconditional, and for everyone, there is the little voice in the back of our head that hedges our bets, that wonders if this kind of love is truly possible.

For those of us who grew up in homes where it felt like love was doled out based on our accomplishments; or where violence and abuse were common; such love is almost beyond belief. In fact, we can be suspicious of the words that come from scripture or the church when our life experience was to hear one thing ("Mommy and Daddy love you just like you are") and experience another (the feeling that love was given or withheld based on what we produced).

For many of us, our experience of love has felt more like running for office that the recieving of a free gift. We feel like we have to store up enough "votes" or "trophies" or whatever before we can safely expect to be cared for.

Even those moments of exquisite awareness of God's love for us are often accompanied by words like those of the Psalmist:

"What is a frail mortal, that you should be mindful of him/her, a human being that you should take notice"

Or those of Chris Christofferson:

"Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one, of the pleasures I've known?
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do,
That was worth love from you, or the kindness you've shown?"

The truth is that the answer is "Nothing...and we don't have to." This is shocking to most of us. It goes against the grain. But it doesn't go against scripture. The Bible keeps telling us things like: "God showed God's love in that while we were yet sinners...." and "greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." The truth is that God doesn't love us because we're good.

In fact, there's some pretty steamy stuff in scripture that points to the idea that God's feelings toward us are more like those of a lover in the erotic sense. The Song of Songs, in addition to being incredible (and vivid) love poetry, compares God's love for humankind to a young couple who can barely restrain themselves. And the description of the Church in Revelation as "prepared as a Bride for her husband" builds on this image.

his isn't an intellectual exercise....God loves, craves, desires, "has the hots for" humankind. And what's more, God created us to have that kind of desire for God. This is why St. Augustine could say "our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee." God wants you (and me) in a big way. And we were created for that relationship. All our seeking, all our wandering, all the striving/addiction/craziness/hungry for we don't know what....it's our search for the true home that we find only in God. Just like (if we're lucky) the true home we find in the arms of our lover.

Good parents...good lovers...when these are at their best, they point us toward another reality. All of them point to-but can't even begin to describe-how God feels about us. You and I are called to join this terrifying, joyful, giggly, tearful dance of Life....and we can only risk the vulnerablility to step into the music when we know how God feels about us.

God loves you. Come join the dance.

Hope to see you Sunday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today I came across Psalm 18, half of which I had apparently highlighted years ago. As I read about God's wrath shaking the earth and flooding it with "dark waters," I couldn't fathom why I highlighted such a fire and brimstone passage.

Then I got to the verse where, "he drew me out of many waters." With this passage, with the Gospel, with our lives, it's so important to read the ending, lest we assume the story ends with guilt rather than grace.

I think it's true that our society and many families promote the idea that love is earned. But I think even those of us fortunate to grow up in loving families need the humbling reminder that God's love didn't come by our doing.