Tag Archives: encouragement

God’s Idiocracy

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I stole the word idiocracy from Mike Judge’s film of the same name – about a future where society has become so dumbed down that an average person today  is now the smartest.   In Mike Judge’s world, the term meant “governing by idiots.”

I’m using the word, not because followers of God are idiots, but because we are fools:  or at least we should be.  And “foolocracy” doesn’t sound as good.

It has been the temptation from the very start for followers of Jesus Christ to seek respectability, forgetting that we are following the very personification of God’s Foolishness.  Is there anything more foolish then making an offering of your only son to the same people who have shown again and again that they have a hard time doing what you ask of them?

And God’s offering of Jesus to the world is not out of the ordinary:  it is the culminating act in a  whole history of foolish behavior going back giving us the freedom to obey or disobey in the garden.

The point, though, for us is not to trying figure out why God has been so foolish, but to see how we can be foolish in our own way.  It is God’s foolishness that gives us the joy of knowing Jesus Christ:  our foolishness can help do the same for another.

Burden of Proof

We have been watching a TV show where the two main characters have diametrically opposed views about God. One is a devout Catholic; the other believes God does not exist, that Christianity is a mythology. The primary focus of the show is not the differences in their faith, but it does come up fairly often. Sometimes they have some fun with it, like in an episode where the atheist said the story of Jesus’ birth in the manger was a little too convenient, and then she went into labor while they were on the road and, you guessed it, gave birth in a stable.

In another, more serious episode, one of their colleagues was shot and killed. In her grief, the atheist said, “If there was a god, he would have let Vincent (the victim) stay here with us.”

I know I am risking offending my atheist and agnostic friends, but in some ways this quote gets to the heart of people’s unbelief. However we imagine God, there ends up being some kind of contradiction, which becomes an obstacle to believing in God. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is reconciling the idea that God is loving, with all the pain and misery that God appears to allow to happen.

When we hit this particular obstacle (something terrible has happened and our loving God has allowed it), we have a lot of choices. We can try to discover what might have been merciful in what has happened. We can try to determine why God might have allowed it to happen, even though it was bad (which is tough to figure if you believe God is also all-powerful). We can go around it, or work through it and trust that God is as pained as we are. Some people simply go no further: this terrible thing is proof that God doesn’t exist.

Did your parents ever say no to you, when you were a kid, and not give you what you wanted? Because they didn’t love you the way you wanted, did they no longer exist? Did your parents ever allow you to get hurt when you were a kid – let you try out for the baseball team, even though it was obvious to everyone but you that you were terrible? When you were stung by the rejection that your parents allowed you to experience, did they cease to exist? Or did your parents express their love for you in a way that you didn’t understand at the time?

I’m certainly not equating the loss of a loved one, or a building collapse with being cut from the cheerleading squad, but one painful truth does not negate the possibility of other truths. You might find it hard to find proof that God is real, but you can never firmly prove that God doesn’t exist.

The burden of proof falls on us: those who already believe. We can provide proof of God’s love by loving all we can. When people cannot see a loving God in the circumstances of their lives, we must show them a loving people of God through our actions.

Before my aunt died, touched by all the kindness shown by people from my mom’s church, she said, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe in the people who believe in God.”  Wouldn’t you want words like this to be said about you?

Then love, love, love. Do not shy away from people in their tragedies, but do what you can for them. Don’t try to explain God, but be Jesus for them, by touching them with your compassion. People cannot always see God in the actions of the world, but may they always see Christ in yours.

Painting Others Into the Picture

I have a picture of a painting called The Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem from a 15th century Italian artist named Gozzoli. Even though we know very little about the magi, it is safe to say this painting is not historically accurate, since everyone in the painting looks and is dressed like a mid-15th century European. It does seem a little odd at first, but it is a way for the original audience of the painting to place themselves in the story: they, too, are invited to see the king.

Today (January 6) is Epiphany, when we celebrate the arrival of the magi. If I were to paint a picture of this moment for today’s white church in the USA, I don’t think I would do what Gozzoli did, but rather try to paint it exactly as it occurred, without a single white European in the picture.

We are living in a very unwelcoming phase of our country’s history. This morning’s news reports that there plans to build 700 more miles of wall or fence along our border with Mexico, at the cost of billions of dollars. People aren’t thinking twice about this, because we live in a climate that encourages us to view anyone different than us as a potential enemy.

Epiphany reminds us that every person, whether “different” than us, or “the same” as us, is on the same journey of discovery. Christ calls – and welcomes – all of us, and as followers of Christ, we are called to be the same sort of welcoming people. Every time we refuse to be welcoming, we reveal that the greatest threat to our well-being is ourselves.

We have no real enemies, only fellow travelers. May we give them food, water, shelter, and compassion for the journey.

Did you want to see the painting:  Click here

Daybreak

If you wrestle with the fact that the church isn’t perfect, even though we follow the Perfect One, or if you don’t know how to respond to people who want to know why Christians still mess up so much, consider this quote from Gregory the Great:

The dawn intimates that the night is over, but it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life both daybreak and dawn? We do some things which already belong to the light, but we are not free from the remnants of darkness. It will be fully day for the church when she is no longer darkened by the shadow of sin. It will be fully day for her when she shines with the perfect brilliance of interior light. This dawn is an ongoing process. When the dawn has come, the day will retain nothing belonging to the darkness of night.