Sunday, September 10, 2006

Speaking to God about God

It can be much easier to talk about God than to talk to God. We make all kinds of assertions about God, hold all kinds of conversations, and debates about Him and the whole time acting as if God’s not right there listening. It’s like if you were sitting with two friends and you began discussing the one with the other without acknowledging his or her presence in the room. It’d be pretty awkward. And it gets especially awkward when we make accusations toward God in this context. We say things like “God is angry” or “God is a liar” or “God doesn’t care” in conversation as if He’s somewhere else or is just some lifeless concept floating in space for us to poke and prod at. As cliché as it may sound, God is listening. He is immanent, soaking the world with His presence. He fills every conversation we have; He is present in every debate. So we need to be careful not to speak as if God isn’t there. Every theological conversation you have is a prayer so next time you should ask yourself if you’d say it to His face because you are after all. He’s there and He’s waiting to be included into the conversation. So maybe you should ask God your questions. You were made to be in conversations with God and His community. Your questions and assertions are directed to both God and people so your conversations end up being more of an explanation of the conversation going on between you and God.

This might be why the Jews were so confrontational with God in their prayers. There was nothing they didn’t take before Him. They brought their doubt, their frustrations, their hopes, their fears, their anger, and their happiness alike because they knew it wasn’t going to be kept from Him anyway. They knew God was eternally immanent. The psalms are filled with assertions about God but all in all they are a prayer. Psalms is the greatest layout of prayer and theology that we have. Prayer and theology are always found side by side.

1The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.

2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

4 Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
_Psalm 23

This chapter is filled with theology; statement about God. But the suggestions are made in conversation with God. Saint Augustine, the father of systematic theology also wrote in this fashion; writing words about God to God.

“Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: Yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.”
_Confessions 1.1

You can be open with God. Share with Him your doubts about Him, your fears that He may fail you, share your pain, your passion, and your joy. Only do not pretend He isn’t there. Don’t treat Him like a speck in the distance. If anyone should be treated as the speak it is us and still we are not a speak to God.

4 comments:

Janette said...

I like this Wes, I really agree that we do this all the time, I know I do at least. It does seem quite silly to think about how many lofty conversations have been held without even acknowledging God's presence simultaneously.

I love the way you think=) Man I wish you were in Torrey!

=)

Stephanie said...

great post wes...very thought provoking. this probably is going to sound like a silly question to you, but you quoted confessions...what is that? is it a book? just curious...have a good day!

WES ELLIS said...

Hi Stephanie,
Confessions is the title of Saint Augustine's journal. It's called The Confesions of Saint Augustine but we refer to it simply as Confesions. It was written in 427A.D.. It's a shame to only read new books. C.S. Lewis once wrote that it's better to read old books because the "trial is still on" for the new ones, we're still deciding how credible they are. It takes about 50 years to really know. Old books have withstood the test of time, culture, and tradition and have earned their reputation. So I recommend Confessions to you as a good old book that in many regards has guided the way we do theology today.

-Wes Ellis

P.S. make sure you get a good translation.

Stephanie said...

Thank you for the info...I appreciate it! I love learning new things :) Keep smiling friend!