THE FACEBOOK POST that I read this week caught me off guard. It was from a friend.
A recovering alcoholic, she quoted a few sentences from “Bill’s Story,” in the Alcoholics Anonymous book. The quote referred to one man’s struggle to accept any of the traditional ideas about God—and some of the less-than-traditional: Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind, Spirit of Nature, Czar of Heavens “however loving His sway might be.”
Here’s the quote from Bill’s Story:
“My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, ‘Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?’”
So that’s apparently what Bill did.
My friend wrote this response:
“It was not until I got into recovery that I began to understand that God could be whatever I wanted Him to be…..and I have managed to really find peace with combining Buddhism and, wait for it…My Jesus. Yes, that’s right…with few Hail Mary’s and rosaries thrown in…Hindi meditation and yoga…it’s really quite a lovely mix of peace…”
I posted my thought:
“But it sounds a bit like the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Whatever we imagine someone to be doesn’t change who they are. It only changes who we imagine them to be. Maybe another approach is to acknowledge that there’s only so much we can know about God, and to relax in that limitation.”
I understand folks recoiling at some of the things they’ve been taught about God. We’ve all been taught some crazy ideas from time to time—painting pictures inside our head of a God who seems more into judgment than compassion.
Here’s my question. How much do we really need to know about God beyond this?
- “God is love” (1 John 4:16).
- Jesus: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9).
We don’t have to imagine either of these.
We know love when we see it.
And we know a fair amount about Jesus if we’ve read his story in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or God.
On the other hand, maybe the perception of God is so distorted in the minds of some people that their portrait of God really does need a makeover.
If so, where do you think folks like my friend should go to get it?