I believe it was Will Willimon who said something like this during the most recent Festival of Homiletics earlier this year – “Do we really believe in a God that actually interacts and is active in the world, or an inept God that stays out of the way and has no impact on the world. If you prefer the last part, then all you should expect is a nice story with a puppy or kitten or a child writing a nice note. But if you actually believe in the first, then expect systems to change and have your life change, but more important to have lots of people’s lives to change in fundamental ways.”
I don’t know about you, but I expect the first part. I’m not sure why anyone would waste their time with an inept God. I’ve gotten to the point also where I don’t really care what the excuse is to expect an inept God either.
I think it’s rather sad that people believe in an inept God who doesn’t care about God’s creation enough to intervene, to transform lives and systems, and to be active in the world. Really sad. If that’s what you believe about God, then I wonder what’s the point of believing in God at all. Don’t you have better things to do with your life?
I don’t know, I’m really starting to think through a few things related to this. What is my job in relation to this – to convince people who don’t believe in an active God that God is active? I don’t think so. I have been plenty guilty of doing this. And I’m not sure how effective it is. If people want to believe in an inept God, then they will believe that, no matter what. Until they decide to be convinced.
Instead, my job is to proclaim how God is active and engaged in the world. To share stories of that happening. To make disciples of Jesus, the God who cared enough about creation to take on flesh and walk amongst humanity and creation. The God who saw unjust systems and countered them with justice and righteousness.
It’s easy to get sucked into the convincing role. There’s plenty of people who need convincing. But that’s not the most effective thing in the world. Instead, we are called to live differently, to act differently, to be different – not to separate ourselves from the world, but to be in the world and live in it differently. Offering an alternative way of being. Actually, the world offers the alternative. Our job is to live the way God intended. Following Jesus isn’t an alternative, it’s the way. The world presents the alternative – a way that never works. Yet people of people seem to want to try to make it work. I’m not sure why though.
What kind of God do you really believe in? Don’t tell me, just live it.