Humans are a creative lot. We build magnificent buildings and cathedrals; then we decimate the land with nuclear and toxic waste. Naturalists give us wondrous parks and nature preserves, then we grind the soil into rubble to put in huge parking lots. Beautiful lakes and seashores adorn the planet until we fill them with chemicals, plastic, and rubbish.
The same hands that pen poetry and great music assemble weapons that destroy cities and cultures. A voice sings lullabies to infants and then scream hatred in the streets. Lips express love and faith but also hatred and hurt.
Many live in spiritual dark ages. Our society has progressed so far, so fast, we have lost track of where we came from and have little idea of where we are going. We sometimes think of God, but only in abstract, distant ways that have little to do with what we call real life. In truth, it is us that have lost track of what is real.
Thoughts of this sort led me to begin work on a series of writings about Real Life, and Real Faith. Now, I am no theologian; just a person; a person who wants to be closer to God and share those experiences with you.
Oaks and pigs
Let’s begin with a little story about oak trees and pigs. Oaks are beautiful and majestic trees. Pigs are seen as humble animals, but in truth are smart, creative and as sweet and loving as dogs; given the chance.
The oak tree is a symbol of strength, honor, and endurance; when mature, these massive trees produce seeds in the forms of acorns. The acorns, in due course, fall from the tree and, hopefully, will take root and help the next generation of trees. However, there are thousands of acorns that never take root. Instead, they become food for squirrels, birds, and … pigs.
For pigs, acorns are the ultimate delicacy and also provide useful nutrition. It is unlikely that pigs connect oaks with their fruit. When pigs find acorns, they do not look up for the source of these treats. No, they focus on the leaf and twig covered ground, where the tasty seeds are found.
When a pig, and his buddies finish consuming a stash of acorns, they d
o not thank the tree for its bounty. Instead, they move on, looking for more food elsewhere.
Pigs do not make the connection between the bounty and its source. They just focus on taking advantage of the abundance of fruit; then they move on.
The point is
The point should obvious: many humans do the same thing. We take advantage of the bounty given us with no regard for the source; with no appreciation of how it came to us.
Sadly, many humans, on receiving a blessing, consider it their right and feel they ‘deserve’ it. The human personality is more complex than a pig’s. Human greed and hoarding feelings make us want to stockpile blessings, so we will have more later. We neglect considering our neighbors and their needs.
In other words, while we give little regard for the source, we want all the goodies for ourselves. We are reluctant to leave any for others, or share our bounty.
In our consuming society, the attitude of “I deserve this” is often dominant. Whether it is an automobile, home, status, or God’s blessing. We want it for ourselves.
A candid look at the 2000’s era reveals Christians exhibiting these traits. In spite of our words, we really don’t want to share God with those ‘other’ people. We act like we have earned the blessings we enjoy; that we are special in some way; and that others (candidly, remember) are not as ‘good’ as us.
Our God, we feel, is better than everyone else’s. Our heaven will be nicer than other peoples’. Our eternity will suit us, even if it excludes those ‘other people’ who, in our thoughts, ‘don’t .
Let me put it another way; it’s about branding. Many modern people are (please forgive me) “brand snobs”. Be it tennis shoes, cell-phones, cars, or a thousand other things, we are ruled by labels.
We have allowed this to spread to our faith. Our god is better than everyone theirs. Our blessings are better. Our heaven is nicer. Look around, groups, churches, ministers, even denominations have signed onto this kind of thinking.
We’ve got this
In our time, human ego, pride, selfishness, and greed have become dominant. In matters of faith, we have recreated God in an image that suits us. In fact, we have recreated God in the image of us.
Today, we have transformed our image of God into something that is unimaginably different than the One who created us.
Grandma would say today’s people have gotten ‘too big for their britches.’ No longer do we want to keep up with the Jones’. We have to constantly be ahead of them.
Or five-star, brand-name, ‘click here’, downloadable, drone-delivered Deity is not real. And, in spite of our self-delusions, there is nothing really new here. Dear ones, gods created by people have name, “Idols”. They are the ‘fake news’ of the Bible: the golden calf, creations of the Egyptian magicians, the totems of the Canaanites, and scores of other counterfeit objects.
Still the same
In a nutshell, fake is still fake, real is still real, people are still people, God is still God. There is really nothing new under the Sun. No matter how much we want to deceive ourselves, the truth is still the truth and it won’t change no matter how much we want it to.