“When God dies, does He fall down from the sky?”
I’m sure it doesn’t take long to identify a few theological misconceptions in this question, but when you consider that the inquirer was a four-year-old, you have to admit a certain profundity of thought.
(That’s my granddaughter. She’s amazing. Thank you for agreeing.)
My first impulse, on hearing this question pipe up from the back of the car, was to discount it as childish prattle, something we adults do entirely too much. My second predilection was to correct the obvious spiritual fallaciousness by asserting,
“God doesn’t die. He has always been and always will be. And He’s here with us in the car, right now.”
And then it occurred to me how alarming that might sound to someone small, sitting alone (or so she thought) in the back seat.
He Who Has Ears, Let Him Hear
Redemption came with my third action — three time’s a charm — when I actually listened to the child, looking at the issue from her perspective, and laughed with joy at such simplicity, acceptance of truth, and interpretation of that truth. She took the information she had and extrapolated from it, and because her facts, and the ability to analyze those facts, are limited, so then is her interpretation.
(When I mentioned the comment to the Norwegian Artist, his observation was, “Why do we always look ‘up’ when we talk about God? Isn’t He supposed to be everywhere, and most significantly, with us?”)
As individual Christians, we deal with two ages and levels of maturity in our lives: our actual age, whether we are 4 or 40 or 104, and our spiritual age, which doesn’t necessarily correspond to the number of years that we have been a Christian. There are Christians of 50 years who operate on pretty much the same level they did upon first believing, there are firebrands who sizzle up and sizzle out within a few short years, and — as with everything in life — there’s an aggregate encompassing the two extremes.
God Teaches Us about God
Generally, where we are in our level of wisdom, understanding, discernment and acumen is a blend of our life experiences, intellectual pursuit, and time spent with God in prayer, meditation, and the reading of Scripture. We learn about God from God Himself, who tells us in Psalm 32: 8:
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
Many people, who are seeking acceptance and love in their lives (that’s pretty much all of us) rejoice when they find this in Jesus, who sacrificed Himself for us long before we heard about, knew, or cared anything about Him (Romans 5: 8).
“We know and rely on the love God has for us,” 1 John 4: 7 tells us. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”
Doubting God’s Love
But frequently, it’s not much later that we begin to doubt God, fearing that our least little transgression — skipping church, or going to bed early instead of reading the Bible, or swearing at the dog — will result in, at best, His punishing us, and at worst, His tossing out our salvation altogether.
Through imperfect knowledge blended with immaturity, we are misinterpreting God.
There’s a reason we so frequently refer to our Christian lives as a journey, a day by day progressing toward the final destination — eternal life, after death — and we “walk in his ways,” (Psalm 119: 3), with his word lighting our path (verse 105). Anyone who has traveled anywhere knows that, unless you are Captain Kirk in the transporter, you won’t get there instantaneously, but as Christians, we expect fast results, telling ourselves that if only we studied more, or thought better thoughts, or Had — More — Faith (we mentally scourge ourselves for this one all the time), then we would truly Know God, and we’d never get anything wrong.
Honestly, no matter how hard you study, you won’t learn Mandarin Chinese in a day.
God is huge. Job Chapters 38 – 41 is God’s own account of Who and What He is: He gives orders to the morning, and walks the depths of the sea; He watches when the mountain goats give birth, and sends lightning bolts on their way. We cannot possibly understand the full depth and width and height and length of God, but we can start by grasping that His love for us is beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3: 18).
We’ll mess up. We’ll get things wrong. We may look for God’s body on the ground after He expires, but we have a patient Teacher. As we listen to His words and rest in His arms, we grow up.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I’m serious about wanting the joy, peace, hope, and love we all talk about in Christian circles, but often don’t expect to find. It’s there — and you see it more clearly when you stop listening to all the noise in the room.
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