When you think of God, do you envision?
- a proper English gentleman
- a modernized Biblical patriarch
- an erudite English professor at a Ivy league university
- a tame Lion (returning to the C. S. Lewis reference)?
Do you recreate God in your own idealized image?
There is a constant assumption in much of what I read that God shares the sensibilities, values and perspectives of the person writing. Comments on that trend probably reached their peak in those who wrote against the implicit belief in the 1800s that God was really a proper English gentleman. That is, people exposed to Christianity rebelled at the concept that God’s view as identical to the British managerial class of the 1800s.
But usually we do not question the base assumption. So, some see God being like Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, except without the slaves or plural wives, and without sheep to herd. The more educated drop the beard and robes and update God to his proper place as a relaxed professor at an Ivy League, with the same tastes, mores and values.
In every case, people recreate God into a tame Lion. Of course they agree with Aslan and C. S. Lewis that God is not a tame lion, at least as far as others are concerned, but when God says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD” they know that what God is saying is that “I think just like you do, I’m talking to everyone else who hasn’t reached your degree of enlightenment.”
I would suggest that any time we become that comfortable in our perspectives, we are wrong.
First, God has the perspectives that come with age. There are dramatic differences n the way a three year old child and a five year old child thinks. Differences between seven and twelve are dramatic. Between thirteen and twenty-one are such differences that thirteen year olds refuse to believe that they exist. The difference between eighteen and twenty-two is statistically significant. Twenty-six and thirty-two is a surprising gap, as is the change in perspective between forty and fifty. Anyone care to really believe that there are not the same differences between a hundred and a thousand, or a thousand and ten thousand?
Second, intelligence does surprising things to thoughts. Someone at an IQ of 90 thinks much differently than someone with an IQ of 120. 140 is a good deal different from 160. 160 is different from 170+ Extreme grief reduces functional intelligence for a while, and is an interesting experience in perspective, as are other things that have the same effect. I do not doubt that if God has an IQ of greater than 300 he thinks in dramatically different ways than we do.
Third, God sees and deals with inter relationships far more complex than we do. There may have been many reasons for the law of Moses, but one thing it did was keep the Jews from becoming assimilated before Christ came. It truly was a schoolmaster to bring them to where they could accept the Christ in that regard (and it is easy to forget that many did — in fact at one point all of the Church consisted of citizens of the kingdom of Judah).
I’ve written about affliction before, but if God has a similar view of our afflictions as it appears we would have looking back at them after only a thousand years, he might well conclude there were more important things than resolving them.
What is God, beyond a God of Miracles? I would suggest that God is someone who loves us, but of whom we can say “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
I think we are vastly mistaken when we think we know better than God, understand things more clearly, or can correlate all of the reasons for God’s commandments. What we need to know, to believe and to hope is that while we do not know the meaning of all things, we know that God loves his children.