|Posted by rjagilbert on February 26, 2012 at 3:00 AM|
There once was a boy who found a mouse and named it God. He placed it in a cage and did everything he could to make God happy, but when morning came he awoke to find the cage door open and God gone. The little boy wept until his mother arrived.
“What is wrong?” asked his mother.
“God is dead,” the child announced.
“How can you tell?” she asked.
“Just look,” the boy pointed to his cage. “The cage is empty.”
“God is not dead,” mother said. “He is just not in your cage.” She looked around the room. “I can see signs that he has been busy all night in your bedroom. In fact, if you look around for him, I’m sure he’ll make himself known.”
“But he is not in my cage,” the boy lamented. “To me he is dead.”
“Stop looking for God in your cage,” mother chastised the youth. “He is free and alive. He could be anywhere, but you won’t find Him unless you look for Him.”
“Mother!” The boy suddenly shook his head with disgust. “You’ve become a pantheist!”
The Bible tells the story of Elijah standing on a mountain as God was about to pass by. First came a great windstorm that shook the mountain, then an earthquake, then a fire. But God was not in any of these impressive acts of nature.
Quantum Physicists have been searching for several decades now for the theoretical “God Particle” that, as they understand it, holds the entire universe together on the sub-atomic level. How foolish is it, though, to assume that the God they are looking for (be it the creator of the universe or an inanimate glue that holds it together) is a particle at all. What if God is not a particle? What if God is more than a particle? What if He is found in an energy field or a chronological measurement of time?
How arrogant it is to assume that God can only be found under the conditions and specifications man has laid out to find Him in! Are we not like the boy with the cage when we lay out our own expectations of what God is? Do we place a running-wheel of repetitive rituals out for Him and complain when He does not appreciate our effort? Do we lay out a shallow dish of praises and a transparent bottle of sacrificial gestures to encourage His favor toward us? Do we slam the cage shut once we feel we have God inside—determined to enclose Him within the confines of our own understanding?
Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and to not lean on our own understanding. How many of us have limited God’s presence in our lives by setting His standards in accordance with our own understanding? Over and over again within scripture and in personal testimonies, we read about God’s hand being seen in the lives of men long before they turned to Him and asked for salvation. Could it be that God is always there, but we just don’t expect to find Him until we open our eyes and start looking? Could it be that the only real act of salvation is acceptance of something that has always been there—something as present and real and un-changing as the gravity, air, and light around us? Could it be that baptism, alter calls, and laying on of hands only announce to the subconscious to start paying attention to the gentle whisper that has been there since birth?
Imagine how the story of Elijah might have ended if he gave up and went home because his expectations of God did not match those of the gentle whisper that came to him up on that mountain. Have you ever done that? Have you put God in a cage? Are you so certain of what you are looking for in a God that the Creator of the Universe could pass you by without you ever recognizing His voice?
Elijah saw a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. What kind of grand manifestations might we mistake for God in this culture? My church sends our youth to annual Christian conferences where loud rock music, light-shows, and guest speakers tell them what God wants them to do with their lives; they come home inspired (temporarily) to follow the current pop-topic ministry. Is that God’s voice, or man’s? I have witnessed spectacular television specials hosted by lavishly dressed evangelists—seated on gold-plated thrones in splendid cathedrals—promising God’s prosperity in our lives. Is it really God’s will that we seek such things? My church hosts bible-studies and movie nights with video curriculum filled with action, drama, and emotionally gripping sound-tracks that can really encourage a man to want to do exactly what the writers of that video want them to. Once again, is this God speaking to our hearts, or man?
Adolf Hitler had a very successful propaganda machine working for him as he began building his power in the 1930s. How I wish more Christians could watch one of Hitler’s propaganda movies. How close it comes to modern “inspirational” Christian entertainment is disturbing. Lights, glamour, loud music, bonfires, banners, masses of people all seemingly coming together in unity. It is easy to see how such a man-made act of inspiration could lead some to think they hear God’s voice speaking to their heart. I know several youth members who felt like failures for falling away from what the guest speaker at last year’s conference told them was God’s plan for their lives. I know fathers who feel they failed their families because the steps to success imparted in the inspirational Men’s movie-night study did not work for them. I know how the impoverished family feels after watching an emotional short-film during the pastor’s sermon on faith offerings. I’m sure a lot of other Christians feel like failures for not living up to such splendid illusions.
Really, folks. Who is setting the expectations for God in our lives? When a rock concert tells us which direction God is going to take us, or when a movie makes us weep with conviction, or when a televangelist assures us that God wants to prosper our finances, is that not man’s expectations?
The God I know is an interruption. He does not play by man’s rules. He does not meet man’s expectations. When we lay down the terms in which God can manifest in our lives, we are just as much the fool as the physicist who overlooks every measurement that does not point to his already established theory of what he should be looking for. (If that sounds like a statement of circular reasoning, it is.) We do not limit God. We only limit our ability to see His hand in our lives and to hear His voice guiding us toward His will.
There are two kinds of sin in this world. Rebellion, and oblivion. We are just as guilty of turning our backs on God when we stop looking for Him as when we outright rebel against His laws. We can condemn those who kill, steal, and commit adultery, but if we remain ignorant of our Creator—or worse, if we create our own false idea of what God is, we are far more damned than those filthy, murderous heathens whom we scorn. Scientists, Christians, and the rest of us could learn from this proverb: Denial of Reality is the deadliest sin.