Sunday, March 02, 2008

Is God a Big Meanie... or Something Else?

I don't know why but it seems so many of us still hold a 7th grade image of God in our minds. Maybe it comes from the misconception that Christianity is "all about rules and commandments and this is a sin and that's a sin and man, what's left... GOSH!" (insert Napoleon Dynamite accent).

Remember the movie Pleasantville that showed sin as being the great liberator, the thing that brings fun and color and woohoo! to life where the boring, rigid, dress pants wearing self-righteous only see black and white? Ugh... what a twisted movie. As twisted as sin.

Ooo there it is! Sin... that nasty three letter word is the quick answer as to why we have to struggle and work and sweat it out to get the true image of God back into our cloudy heads. Sin has distorted our vision; it tricks us into choosing lust for a pleasure over the love that we know really satisfies. It's that slippery slope that always and everywhere puts me first instead of the Other, like kids pushing around for "first" on the sliding board of life.

The scandalously beautiful truth of God as a Lover, as the Youth of Eternal Summers and the Ancient of Days (you go Van Morrison), has still not taken root and traveled deep into our hearts. WHY?


#1. LAZINESS..... You see, rules are easy to follow, easy to break, easy to water down, and build back up again. But when someone says "I love you" right in your face.... ooooo. We have to respond in a whole different way. It's become personal. I have to get up off of the couch and do something, be someone... for someone other than me.

#2. FEAR..... What is the first thing Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they broke off their personal covenant relationship with God? They were afraid, so they hid themselves. Sin tells us that people are only out to do one of two things to me: manipulate or dominate. They can't honestly be thinking only of my happiness, can they?

"Hark! my lover - here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices."
- Song of Songs 2:8-9

Maybe all along God has been peering out at us, not to check up on us and see if we've screwed it up yet so He can toss some lighting bolt of suffering at us, but He's looking through the lattices of the walls we've built up like a Romeo looking for his Juliet...

In the Christian tradition, the Song of Songs (the book that's right smack dab in the middle of the whole Bible) has been interpreted not just as love poetry between a bride and groom, but as the ultimate Love Song between Christ and the Church. The saints and mystics saw it more as the union between Christ and
me. Where the two become one flesh, where Divinity marries humanity! It was their favorite book.

"O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you, let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely."

Don't we all, tough guys to tenderfoots, sweethearts to the old and soured, wooed and wounded hearts, all long for this kind of love? This intimacy? To love this way and to be loved?

"On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves - I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves."

Are we afraid of what we might find? Are we too lazy to make the move into this dark night? Perhaps God is bigger than the Big Judge with the Book of Rules we once envisioned Him to be. Perhaps God is less a featureless cloud of bright and biblical proportions and more like the Love in our dreams and our quiet walks and wanderings on the way home from school, down the empty alleys from the pub, the club, and the movie halls where we paint our dreams in high density and shocking intensity. Maybe God's love is bigger than we can possibly ask or imagine.

If we seek, we will find.

"Have you seen him whom my heart loves? I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves. I took hold of him and would not let him go..."
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