Sunday, August 14, 2011

God is NOT my co-pilot

Maybe it's just me, but whenever I see that bumper-sticker I cringe. Actually, I have to admit that when I see most bumper stickers of a religious nature I tend to cringe, but this one more than the others.

The mere idea that God is somehow riding shotgun for you is more than a little denigrating to the essence and power of Who and what God is. His power fills the universe and His essence surrounds us no matter where we are. It was the psalmist who proclaimed, "Where can I escape from Your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If ascend into heaven, You are there; if I descend into Sheol, You are there too. If I take wing with the dawn to come to rest on the western horizon, even there Your hand will be guiding me; Your right hand will be holding me fast." The earth alone cannot contain His glory. As Abraham Heschel said, "In the realm of the ineffable, where our own presence is incredible, we do not ask: Where is God? We can only exclaim: Where is He not?"

God is not something that can be thought of in terms of the familiar and mundane. He is beyond our minds to fully comprehend, yet He has made Himself known to us. He is something so far above us in power and holiness that even Moses was not allowed to look upon His face, lest he be consumed. In fact He is so holy that His name could not be spoken in Judaism – except once a year on the Day of Atonement. Heschel describes that name as "The word that means more than universe, more than eternity, holy, holy, holy we cannot comprehend it. We only know it means infinitely more than we are able to echo. Staggered, embarrassed, we stammer and say: He, who is more than all there is, who speaks through the ineffable, whose question is more than our mind can answer; He to whom our life can be the spelling of an answer."

But, we have sought to make God like ourselves. God has become the "Laurel" to our "Hardy". We have brought Him low enough in our minds that we have reduced Him to a mere sidekick, sitting along side us, taking Him along for the ride. Even the reply to the "God is my Co-Pilot" bumper sticker is not enough. You've seen it, I'm sure: "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat." It isn't enough to think of God as a divine Chauffer. He is far more holy, far more powerful, filling the universe with His glory alone.

In my religious experiences I have found that Protestantism, far more than other faiths has been more apt to treat God as "one of us" than even Catholicism has. Have you walked into any ancient/medieval cathedral? The largeness and the expanse alone can cause the spirit to exult. Your eye is pulled heaven-ward and your mind fixates on the idea of how small we truly are. If we are so small in this building – imagine how small we are in relation to the universe and in relation to the Creator of the universe? We are subconsciously reminded of the power and glory of God and we are urged to try and make ourselves worthy to approach such a God. Protestantism, on the other hand, has gone too far in bringing God down from His heavens. He is become familiar, common and smaller. Their places of worship are more often than not, more to scale. We appear, in relation to any crosses, or altars or steeples, larger – or at least on an even par with the Divine. There is little to remind us physically of our having any need to approach God with humility.

The God whose glory and voice alone shook Sinai with its power shouldn't be reduced to the realm of irrelevance and insignificance. Furthermore, as Abraham Heschel stated: "We cannot think any more as if He were there and we here. He is both there and here. He is not a being, but being in and beyond all things." He is not like us – He is above us, beyond us, and within us.

No comments:

Post a Comment