I am tired. It seems to be due to anger. I am uncertain why, but I am angry. Why? With whom? It is more difficult to avoid anger and sadness when I am tired, but am I tired because I am wrestling with the anger and sadness of life? Not just my life, but in the lives of others. My closest friends tend to be very compassionate people. Maybe being compassionate takes a toll on a person. I will follow the anger to see where it leads
I suppose I am angry with life. I have heard people all of my life talking about God. God is all powerful. God answers prayers. God protects those who believe in Jesus. God is love. God takes care of those who take care of themselves. Vengeance belongs to God, so don’t punch somebody or kill them. It’s a God thing! God is more eager for us to pray than we are eager to pray. God delights in answering our prayers. God saved me! God sent angels to protect us! God works in mysterious ways. God cares. God had other plans. It was not God’s will that he should live. If somebody tells you they know the will of God, grab your wallet and run! Jesus is God. God is present in the Holy Spirit. God’s people? God God God. It sounds more like a marketing campaign than the truth about God.
I know I am not angry with God. I do feel I am angry with the way people all over the world portray God, though. I believe God is consistent. Orthodox (traditional) religious teachings do not allow God that characteristic. So many people who consider themselves to be Christian would benefit from a closer examination of their beliefs and the teachings of their particular group. Orthodox or evangelical Christians and even some who call themselves progressives blindly or almost blindly accept a capricious, inconsistent, or sometimes even malevolent God. God is described as if God is a human with emotions, behaviors, and desires paralleling those of humans. We are told that we are created in the image of God, but we are effectively taught to treat God as if God is created in the image of humans. God is more than that. God is worth understanding. God is worth loving. There is no room for anger from God nor toward God.
I quit believing in most of the God statements in the second paragraph when I was still young. I began to learn that the orthodox teachings of most religions are steeped in ancient superstitions. In the case of the Bible, a lack of understanding of the original meanings and purposes of the stories of the Bible have for centuries misled people and hindered the message of God through Jesus. For many, the church and its members have managed to almost completely block the Jesus message.
Religions have been used to control and to provide comfort and security for people. With churches as examples, adherents of a religion are compelled to accept understandings that were developed long ago and little is done to update the understandings in light of centuries of learning.
The experience that opened my mind and my heart to a loving understanding of God through Jesus was the illness and death of a cousin that I dearly loved. I was nineteen and a sophomore in college. Carl discovered he had cancer about two years before then. We attended church and hung out together. I watched him slowly die as the church declared that Carl would be healed thanks to the prayers and faith of the congregation and many others who cared about Carl and the family.
When Carl died, the standard excuses were made for why prayers and faith did not work. God works in mysterious ways. Carl is in a better place. He died young so he would not have trouble later on. It was in God’s plan. It was God’s will. God needed him more than we did. On and on. I do not remember anyone facing the fact that a disease took Carl in spite of the fact that he should have had many more years to live. If the standard excuses are to be believed, God pulled Carl out and killed him with cancer. That did not fit with what the Bible and Jesus really say about God. It made Carl God’s property rather than a child who God loved.
In other cases, the same people would claim that God healed somebody, yet they claimed God decided it was Carl’s time. God was just, but while evil flowed worldwide, God killed Carl, a young, happy, loving person. In my study of God and from prayer, I learned that was just not possible.
Many people effectively blame God for so much of what happens or give God credit for manipulating life when it is inappropriate. If something good happens to them or if they avoid a bad outcome, they praise God and may say, “It’s a God thing”. They take little time to consider that other people in a similar situation were killed or terribly injured in some way. I suppose it is because it is more comfortable to think about and believe that God was responsible for all of it so God took care of them and it just happened to be the other person’s time to suffer. If God makes such arbitrary decisions where he saves one person but allows another to die, that seems to me to be a monstrous God.
More on the statements.
God is all powerful. I believe that statement to the degree that God is what I believe created and operates creation. People point to miracles in the Bible, interpret them literally, but fail to rationally connect the dots on happenings in life. Take miracles in which people were fed when almost no food was available. If God would create manna for years to feed many thousands of people, it makes no sense that millions of people starve to death every year. God could just feed them. Or, with teachings from the prophets and Jesus, God would will that those of us who have plenty feed those who do not have enough.
God’s people. Who are they? When a person refers to God’s people, they generally mean the members of the group being addressed. The statement implies a dichotomy of us versus them. Good guys versus bad guys. The Bible has many statements that indicate that God considers all people equally with each in special relationship to God. It begins in the first chapters of Genesis when it is stated that everything that was created was good. For each of us, the only requirement is to open ourselves to growth in relationship with God. The relationship grows using Matthew 22:36-40. Also consider that the Bible says that through the Jews, the entire world would be blessed. I suppose it feels better to belong to a club that is called God’s People. I see a problem though in that it confuses those who listen to the message. It invites improper judging. It is better not to use such confusing or easily misunderstood statements.
Vengeance belongs to God. This statement indicates that we should not retaliate when we are injured. I agree that is wise, but sometimes this is used as a control method. Sometimes people try to comfort people with the statement. When my son was murdered, being told that God would administer vengeance did not help. It built more conflict. We are taught that anybody and everybody can be “saved” and make it to heaven. We are taught that God loves all of us equally. Grace abounds. The idea that somebody is punished for their actions evaporates with those ideas. We are not to judge anybody. If somebody cheats us we should leave it to God or karma to pay the person back. God will see that the person goes to hell or suffers in some way. To me, vengeance doesn’t make sense. If everybody was free to seek vengeance, the world would be even more violent than it is already.
God is more eager for us to pray than we are eager to pray. God delights in answering our prayers. According to these statements, God’s will is for us to pray. The will is so strong that God takes delight in answering the prayers. Another statement I have heard along with these is that if somebody tells you that they know the will of God, you better grab your wallet and run. I have heard these statements all in the same sermons and letters. So, the person who claims to know what God’s will is about prayer shortly thereafter tells us not to trust somebody who claims to know the will of God.
God protects those who believe in Jesus. Yet, plenty of believers suffer terribly while nonbelievers flourish. An excuse is made that God works in mysterious ways. Some people are killed in a tragedy while neighbors say, “God saved me!” or “God sent angels to protect us!” and other similar statements are given. Again, in some cases, we are told we can know the will of God and in other cases, we are told we cannot know the will of God. Religious people can make God look less reliable than my cat. It is as if God is a stranger that keeps secrets. A relationship of that sort can be impossible to develop.
A great explanation of the will of God is given in Leslie Weatherhead’s book, The Will Of God.The book has fewer than 100 pages. Weatherhead explains how the will of God is consistent. Whoever you are, whatever happens in your life, however long you live, God’s will is that you live in relationship with God. God wills that you have free will and that you have opportunity to live and love to the best of your ability. If tragedy strikes, you re-evaluate your situation, return to your relationship with God (who has not changed) and return to a life adjusted to the outcome of the tragedy.The Will Of God was written during World War II while Weatherhead was the pastor of a large church in London, England. The book was the product of hearing thousands of people grieving over loved ones who were killed or who died in spite of prayers and a certainty that God would protect. Weatherhead explains that God does not intervene in human affairs. Acts of nature, disease, and acts by humans using free will affect Creation. God remains the one thing that is consistent.
Human decisions and actions are important. We can and do make a difference both by action and inaction. Big and small decisions affect the world. I think that is a big part of God’s will. We are given free will so we can make a difference.
Anger dissipated. No longer so tired. God remains there and consistent. This was inspired by several of my best friends who are suffering through some hardships. They have been on my mind. My love goes out to them.