Wednesday, 2 September 2015
Taming the Wild God
26Surely God is great, and we do not know him; the number of his years is unsearchable. 27For he draws up the drops of water; he distills his mist in rain, 28which the skies pour down and drop upon mortals abundantly. 29Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? 30See, he scatters his lightning around him and covers the roots of the sea. 31For by these he governs peoples; he gives food in abundance. 32He covers his hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike the mark. 33Its crashing tells about him; he is jealous with anger against iniquity. “At this also my heart trembles, and leaps out of its place. 2Listen, listen to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. 3Under the whole heaven he lets it loose, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. 4After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. 5God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. (Job 26: 24-27:5)
Last week I heard someone on the radio (I don’t remember the context) speaking about taming the wild God. My thought on this was that this is exactly what religion attempts to do—tame God. Religious doctrine must, perhaps of necessity, define God. For most Christian denominations it is the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whenever we fallible human mortals try to define God we are in effect trying to tame him or her or it and make it in some respects a house pet. In that respect we do create God in our image or at least in an image we can get our minds around and define God as something which we approve of. When we say God is this God is that we are saying that God is not something else.
One of the dangers in doing that is that is that we will want to have God at our beck and call. That has been called ‘God the Butler’. We keep ‘Him’ downstairs conveniently out of the way when it doesn’t suit us or is inconvenient to have Him around. Then we ring for Him (or even Her) when we want something. God is then at our beck and call. God help God if God doesn’t live up to our demands or even expectations. Then we say, “Well if God can’t do what I want or need Him to do then what kind of a God is that?” The conclusion to that can be, “There is no God”.
One of my favourite books of the Old Testament, if not the whole Christian Bible is the Book of Job. It is also one of the more controversial and I am surprized that it made it into the canon. It puts God/YHWH into less than a shining light. God and Satan (before he was thrown out of Heaven) have a bargain that allows Satan to do pretty much what he wants to Job — who is described as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” The object of this little bet is to see if Satan can get Job to curse God. Satan does his best (or worst from Job and our perspective) and yet Job is faithful. However, he demands a hearing before God. God justifies his actions by saying that Job is a mere mortal and cannot know the ways of God:
6Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: 7“Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you declare to me. 8Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? 9Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
This is a hard truth but truth none-the-less. We can’t comprehend why God acts the way we believe God does. Jesus presented God the Father as a God of love but this world of God’s creation is unfathomable. God is unknowable and as much as we would like to tame Him/Her and explain why good things happen to bad people and vice versa there is mystery in life that is beyond us. We have scientific understanding for those things that the opening quote from Job that credited God. However, that does not take away any of the mystery of creation and the wonder which is still there if we are open to it; “At this also my heart trembles, and leaps out of its place”.
All we have left is the eternal why—why is there evil in the world of God’s creating; why doesn’t God answer prayer the way we want God to; why isn’t God behaving like God should? Beyond all these questions we have Job’s response:
25For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; 26and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God,
Thanks be to God.