God Save Us From God
When the skies are dark and all around us seems chaos with the news in Ferguson, Gaza, Liberia, and the terror of ISIS, I am quickly reminded of our recent small group study, Surprised By Hope, a book and study by Bishop N.T. Wright. Out of many things that I gained from this study, one that stands out is to consider how we live into the words of the prayer we recite every week “thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This idea of ‘Kingdom of God’ that may seem so foreign is talking about God’s kingdom here on earth. This shatters any of our categories that I like to think of as the ‘evacuation model’, a model that is so focused on saving oneself that it leads to a removal of our responsibilities to our neighbor and all of creation.
Jesus spoke much about living into God’s presence in the here and now, or as we say in our more churchy words, “The Kingdom of God.” Rather than the evacuation mode, this is one we live with our feet, where our street credit comes from how we walk the walk. When asked the most important of commandments, Jesus gave the most beautiful summary of God’s law, “To love God with everything we got, and the same goes for people.” (translation mine). So as people of hope in a world that is motivated by fear, how are we going to walk?
God’s purpose throughout history has been restoration of all things. In the resurrection, God did something new. Brian McLaren, pastor and theologian, helped open new worlds for me in understanding a loving God in my journey through seminary education. One simple translation that helped me see God in a new way was to translate the word ‘righteousness’ as ‘restorative justice.’ This last week as I was at retreat and Brian was the keynote speaker, he continued to help open my eyes to our amazing creator by looking at some of our most difficult and violent passages in Scripture, but not in isolation, but rather in the context of the many books. From the most violent texts of Judges, we looked at this next to the opening of Ruth followed by Matthew. You come to see an evolving and new understanding of God that culminates in one whose judgment is one of justice, who feeds the masses, and whose abundance is more than we could ever imagine.
To look at the larger story, may we be transformed to see God not as a God of violence, or as a God of patriarchy, or as a God of sacrifice, or as a God of choosing favorites, but may we see God as one whose purpose is loving and restoring relationships. Or as N.T. Wright shared in our study, “people who believe in the resurrection, in God making a whole new world in which everything will be set right at last, are unstoppably motivated to work for that new world in the present.” While the news may make everything seem dark, may we live in the hope of sharing light in the darkness. This is reflected in how we love and care for one another and how we live out the belief of a God of non-violence, a God of inclusion, and a God of justice. From the words of the prophet Micah who shared a new vision of a non-violent and transforming understanding of God:
With what shall I come before the Lord,and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? -Micah 6: 6-8
 *Meister Eckhart Quote and theme for this years Companions of the Inner Way spiritual retreat.