God the Lapdog

April 27th, 2011
Photo © Farther Along | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

“God made humans in his image and humans returned the favor.”

Does anyone else find it strange that all conservatives believe God is conservative and all liberals think God is liberal? And perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but why does Al from Alabama’s God look and talk and act like a Southern Baptist and Calvin from California’s God look and talk and act like a Unitarian? And for that matter, how can God be both for and against gay marriage, think Rush is right and listen to NPR, flood New Orleans for its sins and save starving children in Africa, and be an Aggie and a Longhorn?

Let’s face it, most of us shape and mold God into the kind of God that, not surprisingly, agrees with our opinions, aligns with our politics, shares our prejudices and supports our theology. The Almighty has become our lapdog, and it is not pretty. He patiently sits at our feet awaiting our commands – potty-trained, well-behaved, under our tight control, and castrated with a pink bow in his neatly-groomed hair. If he should ever get out of line we can simply smack him with a rolled-up newspaper and put him outside until he learns his lesson.

Why can’t we simply let God be God?

I’ll tell you why. Because that would be scary as hell. Think about it. God – untamed, uncontrollable, unleashed. A God that tramples party affiliations, runs wild over religious figures and politicians grasping for power, explodes out of constrictive churches and dusty old books, and chews up and spits out human “wisdom,” conventional thinking and labels. A God that loves those we hate like there is no tomorrow, forgives those that screw us over like it’s going out of style, and pursues those we ignore without rest. A God that leads people into unfamiliar, unexpected, and uncomfortable places daily and without notice for one reason and one reason only: because that’s where He can be most easily found.

Now that’s a God that I’d like to meet. I’m done with the Burger King, “Have it Your Way,” God. That God is far too domesticated and to be honest…looks WAY too much like me. I want the wild, untainted original. And I know that in order to come face to face with that God I’m going to have to be willing to go deeper into the places that scare me most. It will mean taking a hard look at my beliefs about God and asking “Is that really you God, or nothing more than a creation of my own design?”

Here’s today’s challenge: Question the God you know. Study scripture and talk to diverse faith communities. Be in conversation with those from different backgrounds, upbringings, education and income levels. Question your assumptions. And perhaps most importantly, remember: God is always bigger than we think.

Let God be God.

Jay Cooper is the pastor of Jacob's Well, a new United Methodist Church plant in Chandler, AZ. He blogs at Souls Gone Wild. (Photo Credit: Farther Along | Flickr)

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