Thursday, 21 March 2019

What does God want us to do about him?

I don't think the answer is to think about God a lot of the time, nor to direct our attention towards God.

To do so would be a mistake because God is our Father; and a good Father does not want his children to be thinking about him too much, nor to be addressing themselves to him too much.

Instead, a Father wants his children to live in a 'context' of true understanding and Good motivation.


I don't mean that God wants us to forget or ignore him; in the sense of behaving as if he did not exist. And certainly God wants us to acknowledge his identity; and that he is the Creator. That is what I mean by 'context'.

But ideally this state of knowing is not something at the forefront of our minds, not something we are explicitly doing; but something that is a solid basis for everything we do.

When a child is out in the world - at school, playing with friends - a good Father does not want his child to be thinking about him all or most of the time. The Father wants always to be 'remembered' but not to be uppermost in the child's mind.

Ideally, the Father hopes his child will be engaged by what he is doing; learning from his experiences, growing and developing as a Christian individual.


The reason I mention this is that sometimes Christians have had what I regard as wrong ideas about our ideal relation to God; wrong ideas of what we should be aiming at. I regard it as an error to suppose that God would want us to be praying all of the time, or engaging in liturgy and Christian ritual all of the time, or reading scripture all of the time.

These are activities that I think God intends to be a means to an end - and when not effective, then not done. We probably need reminding of God's reality, and we want to meet and engage with God - analogously to a child coming home at the end of the day and talking with his parents; or starting the day at home engaged with the family.

But there is a qualitative difference between the family as a solid basis, and the family as the primary topic of conversation, and the dominant theme of thinking.


In a nutshell -  I can express this in terms of the two ultimate purposes of life being Love and Creation. Love is the primary thing for Christians - but does not tell us what we 'do with it'. What we are supposed to do with Love is Creation.

Love fits us to participate with God in the work of Creation.

The family (broadly conceived to include marriage, lineage and those rare strong true-friendships) is the locus of Love and our solid base that enables us to create in ways that are in harmony and aligned by purpose.

Without Love there is not creation - because there is not harmony and alignment. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Love.

BUT Love is not the subject matter of creation - it is the ground of creation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I think you are carrying the Father/children analogy too far.

Human father sure does not want his children to think of him all day; but that is because human father is not the greatest 'thing' in the whole existence.

On the contrary, God IS the greatest 'thing' in existence; and so it makes sense you should think of Him. What else should you focus on? Everything is small and futile compare to God.

Moreover, on more 'practical' grounds: Everything except God will once be taken from you; so if you focus on anything else, you are in for a rude awakening when that happens.

Lao'C

Eric - said...

Agree, this is my position as well. Actually by talking about God too much, one tends to trivialise him. God is something to be held sacred, and sometimes perhaps not to be talked about. Because the more humans talk, the more we tend to twist things. The privacy between oneself and God more important than public proclamations. The reason we need organised religion is because we are far away from Him and need to reach back by paying homage. But the more godlike we become as individuals, the more we see through his eyes, and the holy spirit simply becomes an integral part of our being. So in a sense, we need to forget to remember. Atheism is sort of a fake version of that, pretending to be self-reliant, but fundamentally opposed against and allergic to God. And perhaps some of our co-religionists areally equally culpable of turning God into a "hobby", "fixation" or a "social club". Not sure God is fond of either. Belief can be inhibiting to spirituality if one never learns to fly.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I agree completely. Love makes sense only as a background assumption, not as The Purpose of Life. The same is true of virtue. It may be true in a sense that being fair and honest is the most important thing in business, but fairness and honesty can't be your business. In the same way, "All you need is love" is really only a form of nihilism, which I suppose is why the Christian focus on love has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William.

Which raises the question of why the current state of confusion is allowed to persist - especially considering the inversion-levels of corruption of the word Love in the mainstream media for the ast half century.

My inclination is to balme classical monoethistic abstract 'omni'-deity Christian metaphysics - with its tendency to regard the ultimate reality of Love in terms of a static Nirvana bliss. Christians often try to believe in 'static love' - a state of being, where nothing happens. This seems to be entailed by the requirement for 'perfection' (so that any change implies imperfection).

If Christianity had fully absorbed the implication of the incarnation-death-resurrection-ascension of Time being real, sequential, linear - then this metaphysics could not have stood.

If Heaven is understood as a place of doing, if creation is seen as ongoing and open-ended, if people understand eternal life in terms of resurrected persons in relationships... we get to a different concept of the nature of Love.