“The world is a spiritual kindergarten in which millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks.” –Anonymous
Down through the ages, people have debated, meditated, cogitated and ruminated over a belief in God. Questions keep up inquisitive. Where is God? What kind of power does God have? How does God interact with life on this planet? Is God personally concerned about our welfare and destiny? We want to know why and how the world was made. We crave knowledge; anything that makes sense. This reminds me of what Thomas Jefferson did when he was President. He re-wrote the New Testament to suit his beliefs. He didn’t change the words, but he just left out a lot of things he couldn’t understand, such as the miracles and references to the supernatural.
God is much more than any word that we use to describe God. God defies explanation and easy answers. We don’t really know what to do with Evolution, the Big Bang theory and the book of Genesis (which tells us why the world was created, not how). I believe that science traces the “footsteps” of God. I see no contradiction between science and religion.
I have listened to televangelists who portray an immature belief system; one that images a “slot machine” God. “Push in a prayer and pull out a favorable answer.” I realize that this sounds a little judgmental, but I believe such descriptions are fraudulent. On the other hand, God is more than some intellectual theory.
Theologians tell us that there are five major arguments for God:
- Cosmological—The cosmos could not have created itself.
- Teleological—The world has purpose, and behind the Universe is the Master Designer.
- Ontological—God is “being”, whose very nature implies existence. Theologian Paul Tillich declared, “God is the ground of our Being.”
- Moral—There is a universal urge to do the right thing, based on values of an Absolute Mind.
- Christological—The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
I agree with all of the above, but theories don’t do a lot for me. They are forerunners of dogma, and dogmas limit the human mind. In other words, a person who is dogmatic has all the information they need, period. There is no room for growth or change. Furthermore, God is to be experienced and not theorized.
There are other synonyms for God: Creator, Lover, Higher Power, Law Giver, Father, Mother, Redeemer and others. But, as I say, no word can capture the full meaning of Deity. The real issue, it seems to me, is not that we believe in God, but what we believe about God. For example, there is a boat. I can see it and touch it. It exists, but I am not about to get on it and have a personal relationship with it. My belief, then, is purely intellectual and nothing more. Some say they believe in God or a Higher Power, but that’s as far as it goes.
Jesus gives us a far more personal God when He called Him, “Our Father. Abba.” In fact, the Lord’s Prayer reflects a lot about God, and is said to be a summary of the Gospel. Jesus instructed when you pray to say, “Our Father”. The word “our” implies that God is God for us all, not just a select few. And yet, many people are spelling God with hatred, vengeance, retaliation, bombs and now there is even talk of one country using chemical weapons. The way to spell God has always been love, forgiveness and redemption.
The prayer continues, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Heaven beings now. The Kingdom is not in some far away future. We are living in the Kingdom. There’s an old story about a man who raised roses as a hobby. A friend once said, “You and God have made something beautiful here.” The man answered, “You should have seen it when God had it by Himself.” Thus, we are co-creators with God. I think about this when I look into the face of a newborn baby. It’s Creation all over again.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Note that Jesus again says “our”, not “my” bread. Those of us who have bread need to be ever aware of those without bread, and do what we can to feed the poor and underprivileged. There are so many needy people in the world, and it’s easy to resist so many requests for money for starving children, etc. I wish I could send money to all of them, but I have to be selective. They pull at your heart strings. Some charities have proven fraudulent, but there are many legitimate, worthy causes.
“Lead us not into temptation.” It is not God who leads us, but we put ourselves in vulnerable position. We are easily tempered, and we eat the forbidden fruit. We call upon God to help us to turn away from anything that is destructive. We are praying for protection when we pray, “Deliver us from evil”. We exercise freedom of choice constantly.
The ending of the Lord’s Prayer: “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever” is actually an addition which the church added to make it appropriate for a liturgy, but it’s in harmony with the thoughts of Jesus.
This brief prayer voices our need for communion with our Heavenly Father; a prayer for God’s will to be done throughout the world. It lifts us to an optimistic faith in God, the Creator. Sometimes I think about my mother’s faith, which was short and simple. When matters of religion would come up for discussion, she would always quote Romans 8:8-28. “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Can God be “spelled” any better than that?