Friday, October 12, 2012

Taking God Seriously

There is a great line in the movie “Levity” where Morgan Freeman, a wildly free-spirited and wounded preacher named Miles Evans, says to Manuel Jordan, a broken man recently out of prison and played by Billy Bob Thornton: “You think God talks to me?  We argue maybe, but He don’t participate.  It’s all right.  I’ll see Him one day.  When I do, I’m gonna whip His holy ass.”

I have never forgotten those words.  So honest and human.  So full of the courage of a man who takes God seriously.

Today, God isn’t taken seriously.  Not really.  God is used.   God is toyed with.  God is disgraced by the worst kind of cowardice.  God is betrayed by sanctimonious windbags who brag on themselves and pretend the praise is coming from God.

Religious people can be some of the most annoying people in the world.  They are often full of crap.  They talk big but then act petty and small.  They quote scriptures not as guidelines for good living but as weapons to defend their rigid beliefs.  They bully others.  They look down their noses at the rest of the poor slobs who don’t buy into their con.

I have spent my entire life trying to find God.  I looked in church.  I looked in seminary.  I looked in the Bible.  I looked in the four spiritual laws.  In the sinner’s prayer.  I looked in fundamentalism.  I looked in the Spirit filled life.  I didn’t find God in any of that.  Not in any personal way.

I don’t believe God can be defined or confined.  God transcends our paltry descriptions.  God long ago walked out of the pages of the Bible.  If you worship a book you don’t worship God.  The religious can be so wrong.  Just flat wrong.  About God.  Because God doesn’t fit into clean lines and perfectly squared boxes.  And all attempts at owning God by anyone or any group or any clan or click or crowd or political party becomes an exercise in arrogance and pride.

If you’re going to take God seriously you’ve got to question and struggle and fight with God.  Where the hell is God in this glorious but tough life, in this beautiful but crippled world? 

God is not in anyone’s hip pocket or King James Version or jazzed up church or partisan political spiel.

God better damn well be bigger than any of that stuff.  And a lot more personal.  And human.  And loving.

Only those who take God seriously care enough to confront God—those who want some answers—and not a bunch of driveling clichés and phony platitudes.

God is not a success story.  God is not the path to financial abundance.  God is not a political partisan ideology.

That thinking trivializes God.

If you want to take God seriously you have to be willing to have a one-sided argument and say into the silence that God has a lot of explaining to do.

© 2012 Timothy Moody

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