Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God Is...

Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Liz, the author of the blog
Finding Life Hard published a post today that was inspired by a blog post written by someone else regarding the nature of God.

You really must read Liz's post, Follow me and be persecuted, to understand the context in which I am writing because my words are based on a comment that I posted to Liz's post. (Ain't this blog overlapping weird?)

The blog post that began this chain reaction is a story (Life Cut Sort) of the unfortunate death of a young woman following cosmetic surgery in the blog in the blog, nickhereandnow. The post ended with the words:

This dreadful saga of incompetence and misfortune certainly undermines belief in some benign creator watching over us and keeping us from harm.

Liz's post is a response those closing words. Her theology is excellent as she examines the love and support of God through the good times and bad times, centering on the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross. (Matthew 16:24)

The following is an edited version of the comment I made on Liz's blog.

You've probably heard the saying/joke that "in the beginning God created us and we have been repaying the compliment ever since."

I think that
Albert Schweitzer rather confirmed that in his theological work,
The Quest of the Historical Jesus . We humans tend to picture God/Jesus/Moses/Mohammad in the light of our own lives and cultures and expectations.

Personally, I believe that another name for God is "Love". I see God as just and compassionate and unconditionally loving. I find in the suffering of Christ at least a wee understanding of my own pain as a human being.

I am very aware that not everyone believes the way I do; through years of pastoring and several thousand sermons I have also come to realize that it requires experience and spiritual growth for one to change his/her view of God and, yes, life.

There was a woman who I pastored for over 11 years who had grown up in a very fundamentalist cult whose teachings were that God is angry, judgmental, and vindictive. After 10 of the 11 years I was her pastor, she said to me as she left a worship service,
"Rev. Nick, there is something about the services here that I don't understand. I am supposed leave church feeling convicted of my sins and I leaving here feeling forgiven and even good about myself."

I understood her frame of reference. And I appreciated her compliment.

P.S. ~ Since I have quoted Albert Schweitzer, Alex would not forgive me if I didn't share one of Schweitzer's most important words:

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.


  1. I don't have a clue what God is, but I enjoyed reading about your thoughts!

  2. First time I've been told I have excellent theology!! Thanks, Nick, for the mentions and your response.

    Our God is lovely indeed.

  3. I don't see God as anything outside of ourselves. There's no big man with a beard sitting on a throne passing judgment. We judge ourselves. All of the things that happen to us happen because we need that experience for our growth, yes, including death.

    When we stop blaming any outside source and take responsibility life is much easier to handle.

  4. Nick, I really enjoyed the story of your fundamentalist parishioner. What a wonderful pastor you were, in the truest sense of that word.

    When you have a chance, wander over to my place and read about a dreaming event.

  5. I'll go over and read Liz's post. I wish I could believe - I really do - and I do believe in love.

  6. Love this, Nick! Love your wisdom...and Alex's, too!