Yesterday I wrote about people are leaving church because they don’t find God there anymore, but rather some civilized idol, an image of God we made ourselves and civilized, to have in control.
Anybody remember the commandments? Wasn’t there one saying we should not make an image of God? Right! But this was rather about statues. The God of the OT is to be invisible. Yet we do still need some image, to think „God“ at least. When do problems start?
I think the angels in the bible have a point starting conversations with „fear not“. Of course this refers to their appearing in the respective verses, but not fearing is a good idea as I think fear is the reason why people are civilizing God, even though they want to worship Him.
I believe that all people are fearful. They fear for their lives, their living conditions, even for other people like friends and family. Fear makes people want to control things. Because the more they control the fewer things could harm them and their beloved.
And there is basically nothing wrong about this. It is thoughtful to care for friends and family and to be careful about things. But when it comes to God, we cannot have control. That’s only normal, because He’s the one in control, and He will care and provide for us.
We are to fear God in one way, that is that we have to accept Him as major to us, but we are not to be fearful, like being afraid we’d do something wrong and He’d smash us for it. After all, He is a loving God.
But not all people are told. And not all people really get it. So they try to please Him, with all kind of tricks and behaviours. They are afraid of His wrath and thus try to avoid wrongs. They become very restrictive in the rules to live by, all to avoid the wrath of God, all to please Him so He wouldn’t punish them.
They put up hard punishments within their communities for breaking rules, to be sure no one transgresses God’s will. All instead of trusting God and praying to Him for forgiveness in cases of fault. They try to be perfect on their own, to show God, who made them, how good they are and how they not deserve punishment in hell or elsewhere. But they are not perfect and cannot be, for they are still humans and nobody is perfect but God. They forget that it’s all about faith in God and not about good deeds.
The rules they put up themselves remind me a bit of what Jesus said of the man made laws the Pharisees followed: Precautious rules to not molest God with breaking the law.
The whole behaviour shows their lack of faith. They have no faith in their Father to forgive them their sins, though their bible tells them: Ask and you will be given.
They rather make themselves an image of God, of what they think He wants of them and how they think He would act on certain things. By this they deprive God of His position. (and I guess this is a major criticism of Jesus towards the Pharisees of the bible)
They take the position of God and make the rules, just to be sure nothing will go wrong and nothing will be done wrong. They put themselves into control where the control should be God’s alone and do so by making themselves an image of God that fits their rules perfectly. And doing so they are depriving their image of God of the real God so that after a while there is nothing left of God in the image of their god. Finally they are worshipping a man made image, without having a material idol like Isaiah described in chapter 44.
I want to confront them with a quote by Martin Luther:
Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.
There’s nothing wrong with being a sinner. We all are. What is wrong is not confessing to be a sinner. What is wrong is trying to hide the own sin. Be a sinner and do not fear God for it. God does not want you to stop being a sinner. How could you, you can’t even change the color of one of your hair! But confess your sins, let go the pride and let go the rules you put up for yourself. Be free of those rules and put all trust in God. Don’t try to control and civilize Him, He’s too big to control and too wild and vital to civilize. Let His vitality be the source of your joy, of the ever new liberation of all wordly troubles and fears. Be redeemed by the Lord our redeemer.
Comment by Andreas W. Tauber on 2014-01-13 22:56:18 +0100
I don’t find it very helpful to put sin to be the major driving point in faith. Instead of coming to terms with one’s own failures, it strongly suggest the strife of power within organized religion, especially in some churches is to be the ruling factor. Over the last couple of decades faith has by no means lost its meaning for the individual, but organized religion has in many aspects lost its impetus. Only when people find themselves in the church body, as to what they are, will they come back. Most of all it is not about politics, but about the inequities that they find in their own lives. This cannot be solved by referring to each individual’s sin, but rather to give those lost people advice, how they can cope with their shortcomings. People are ever more confronted with psychological problems that remain unanswered in a sermon. Thus they decide in an earlier or later point in time that Christianty does not help them to find the right answer. What they then find is Buddhism, Esotericism or other faith practices that seem to them more promising…
Comment by De Benny on 2014-01-14 21:12:32 +0100
Actually I am very unsatisfied with this article of mine… I am not sure if the church is the place where people learn to cope with their shortcomings. Maybe it depends on what you understand by „shortcomings“. And what you mean with „sin“ on the other hand. It’s nothing moral, it’s the „gap“ between men and God that can only be crossed by God. If this happens and we are with Him, shortcomings disappear, because we find ourselves being the way we are as God made us.
Maybe like this…
I think the message of the church, the gospel, can bring this idea across, and this has to do with sin…