Monday, October 30, 2006

God is not enough for me....

That is one eye catcher of a title, eh? But do I mean it? I think so. In fact, I think Jesus would concur.

I have been a Christian for 23 years. I have heard numerous sermons and teachings where the challenge is put forth -“Is God enough for you?”

In the past I tried to accept that challenge; digging deep inside to cut away anything that hindered so I could run the race set before me. I fought to become an untouchable tower where God was my rock… just me and Him against the universe. I remember, particularly in my twenties, working to make sure nothing had a hold on me, regardless of what anyone else thought of me; I could stand tall because I needed nothing and nobody but God.

Seasons change. Theology changes. I haven’t worked this all out yet, but I am thinking that "is God enough?" is not the question put to us in the New Testament. In fact, I am beginning to think the New Testament teaches the direct opposite.

Before I get into the NT, let’s go back to the beginning in the OT. In Genesis 2:18 God states that it is not good for man to be alone. What is he talking about? Was HE not there? How can God, for whom we are made, not be enough? C.S. Lewis said that God is the fuel by which we were meant to run. How could the company of God not be enough?

I think God was completely aware and comfortable with his other-ness. He looked at himself and said, “I AM”. He looked at man and said, “He is not”. God knew man needed someone else. Deep inside we KNOW that.

On a simpler level, I am aware that I cannot meet all the needs of my wife. The fact that I am male prohibits this. I am-in this sense- other. She needs female friends that can feel what she feels and know what she knows in ways that are closed to me.

Now let’s swing back to the New Testament. Someone asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” In other words, what is the core? What is the single thing I need to be doing? What piece can I not miss? Jesus was not able to answer this question. He was not able to break it down to one thing. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Jesus either could not, or would not, separate loving God from loving your neighbor.

I believe there is a two fold reason for God giving us each other. The first is, like I said, because God knew that we need others of our own kind to relate to. I think we can relate to God better because we have each other.

The second reason is to put a stopper to our potentially endless narcissism. We tend to be rather “I” focused. Can you imagine how insufferable we would be if there really were no one else?

In the West, we are individualists and this individualism has permeated our theology. We have accepted Jesus as our PERSONAL savior. God is our heavenly grandfather and we love loving him. He gives us stuff and makes our lives happy and will give us heaven one day. We have made the God of the universe all about us.

We ignore the “second” commandment because – what part of loving others does anything for me? If you have seen the Matrix movies, there is a scene where Smith is changing others into himself. Copies of him are everywhere. His touch overrides the other’s self and causes the other to become Smith. While changing another into a replica of himself he sighs and utters, “Me, me, me!” The ultimate narcissist.

I recently heard a Utah politician run an ad in which he stated that communism was evil. Hmmm. The definition of Communism – Everyone gives according to his ability, everyone takes according to his need. Now let’s look at how the economy worked in the early church – Acts 2 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

The way of God is the exact opposite of how we have been brought up. Under capitalism, we are taught to think about our personal accumulations and everything is based on scarcity (not having enough). In the economy of God, everything is based on the group, and we are encouraged to think of abundance (being content with what we have).

I am the worst of this. My back up plans have to have back up plans. I always make sure my a$$ is covered. I can be generous, but only once my needs have been taken care of.

Aside from the great blessing my wife and children are to me (I love them so much), they have also been my greatest teachers. Nothing and no one, as of yet, has been able to pull me out of my narcissism like they have. They have taught me that life is not about me. The more I grow in that simple truth, the better life gets.

It is not good for this man to be alone. My family and fellow men allow me to have relationships with others like me. They allow me to reflect on my Father in heaven in ways that I could not if I were alone. My relationship with my Father is magnified because of my relationships with my brothers. Having a family of humanity causes me to look beyond myself to the needs of others. Only with God and man am I made whole.

Is God enough for me? …… I don’t think so…. I don’t think he ever wanted it that way.
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