Sunday, November 13, 2011

God and Santa Claus

Lately I have been reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, called “Searching for God Knows What.” So far I have read and studied 3 chapters in it, and it has really stirred something in me.

First of all I just love the way Donald Miller illustrates things, he comes down to an everyday normal perspective on God. He is a smart guy who is very in Love with Jesus but not with religion. He has traveled a lot and even studied creative writing at the most liberal college in the United States. He is even liberal in a lot of his political views (shocking). Anyways Donald offers a refreshing approach to Christianity thinking outside what he was taught but realizing every stumping question in his Christian walk he ask is answered when he searches the scriptures. Finding God to be a very real but very mysterious being, desperate to mend the broken relationship between Him and humanity, a diversion wrecked from sin.

Being a Christian I love hearing about God and learning more about this inexplicable person that I am in Love with. In this book, Donald explains how growing up he viewed God and Santa in the same categories. I’ve never thought about this but I am guilty of the same thing. You know, He’s making a list, checking it twice! I was thinking God was this being, like Santa Claus, keeping a list of all the things I did wrong and if I didn’t do a certain amount of good works, I would have to pay, either with coal or brimstone!

Doing my good works for God included not cussing, going to church very regularly, being a good person, repenting consistently, reading my bible and praying. I thought doing these formula insured me of a relationship with God and his son Jesus.

Its funny how we try to put God into formulas. God made each one of us so intricately and so differently but we think, “Well if this formula worked for me it has to work for others.” We try to figure out and map out God but that is dangerous and that is where we can confuse relationship with religion.

That is the scary thing about religion it makes God smaller and makes us actually believe God is who we think He is. I mean, we have Catholics who believe he is one certain way, Baptist another and Pentecostals a different way. It seems we make God more into our own image and us not into His.

This happens not only in religion but also in politics. Donald uses an example about a guy he had a conversation with. This guy was very conservative and had opinions all over him, he was explaining why God agrees with his political ideas and that was how they were right. Donald starts thinking about people in Africa and how this guy has made up his Jesus with his imagination, someone more or less who justified his position with a lot of different political position.

Just like his knowledge grew out of believing in Santa Claus, Donald's knowledge started growing out of this fluffy God that was invented to calm his nerves and keep him line. This all happened while he was taking a psychology class, you know with Freud, Pavlov, Maslow etc. (these guys were prominent psychologist) anyways he had to study Maslow’s findings. These findings were based on a theory called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” Basically one of these needs was to know God, or rather to supply for the human psyche. A god reduced to a cuddle toy for humans when they needed validation.

When Donald heard this, he realized that was his same idea of God and he struggled with his faith. He realized he didn’t have a relationship with God but a relationship with a system with simple ideas, certain prejudices, and a feeling that he and people who thought like him were right. Sound familiar?

Us as humans need a relationship with God, but a lot of times we trade this relationship with our need for comfort. We trade God for a very small god, one that exists to simply to validate our identities. This god falls apart as soon as you start asking very basic questions.

I felt this was so powerful because I have been there too and I still know Christians and Non-Christians who have a hard time building a real relationship with God because they feel they have to fall into a certain stereotype, or follow a certain formula that doesn’t fit them or their personalities. It literally breaks my heart for people who can’t move from a certain spot in their walk with Jesus because they have been validated by other people that that is where they are suppose to be and not listening or thinking for themselves from a real God. But that is for the next blog when I start talking about validation from humans instead of God. So tune in next time for now I leave you with a quote from the book:

In my life, God is always changing the way I think of Him. I am not saying God himself is changing, or that my theology is open and I blur the lines on truth; I am only saying I think I know who He is, then I figure out I don’t know very much at all.