Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the needing God

sometimes relationships and dialogue serve as a catalyst for these great lengthy rants.
other times, they spawn these little platitudes that would probably make great fridge magnets.

synthesizing a few different streams, i was prompted to type this in an email to a friend:

the need that is to be attended to in ministry is
what God needs you to do, not simply what you and others are in need of... if we all think this way, the world need not go hungry.

it's a bit quirky to speak of God needing.

(tangent: i sometimes get all caught up in these silly kinds of things and the result of the catching is that i overthink my way out of expressing the idea. i remember a friend once spoke of the danger inherent in editing, as one can unwittingly edit brilliance down to mediocrity. although i recognize the value of choosing words carefully, i sometimes am so careful that i end up saying nothing at all. i have heard people pray this way, flipping and flopping around with verbal shock absorbers and 'not my will but thy will' phrases to the point where you gotta wonder if God isn't just finding those infinite reserves of divine patience and longsuffering being depleted.
God sits there, forcing a smile, saying was there something you wanted to talk to me about?)

i wonder if the idea of a God with a need isn't such a bad thing.
what if the idea of need further completes our picture of God, further augment the perfection and the holiness that we ascribe to God?

can one with need be complete? be God?

for me to embrace this notion, i must let go of the projections that i am tempted to slap onto God which are actually human conditions- human conditions that drive me mildly crazy. you know the ones: those aspects of the phrase 'needy' that suck our own reserves dry.

a needing God is not the same as a needy God.

God needs regular people to show love to each other
God needs regular people to share what they have with each other
(you get the idea...)

see, God has created us to engage in meaningful life and experience with one another, and seeks to work miracles of faith and provision through these engagements. i'm fond of saying that

every good thing is of God and
every bad thing is something good that's been compromised

i believe this, but if what i believe is true, then part of God's glory must needs be realized through me. i have a responsibility in this bigger picture- this grand mosaic that presents the face of God to humankind through the faces of each other- to be part of what's going on, lest my lack of stewardship in the area entrusted to me become compromised and no longer bearing the truth of God's invitation.

i am needed to actively share the aspects of God's face that are part of God's revelation through me... failing to meet this need, part of God's expression of love to this world is stifled, suppressed.

in my view, these things don't change who God is. i'm not tossing some home-brewed version of pantheism onto the table and claiming to have discovered something new. creator is still separate from the created.

thing is, aspects of creator go unexpressed in direct relation to the responsiveness, or lack thereof, of the created to divine opportunities for revelation.

God needs people to express things as creator which can only be truly expressed through the created of God. whereas, some aspects of God's character are plainly evident in this world of somethings, the relational aspects must be expressed through the someones.

take, for instance, a song that i was given back in 1999. it was the last song i wrote in the 20th century, written on new year's eve.

(i say 'given' because there are many different processes for or approaches to creating art, whether this art is visual, dramatic, musical or linguistic. modes of inspiration? probably a whole nother blog that someone else has posted already and articulated better)

the way this song was written was unusual for me. it was almost like automatic writing of sorts, in that there were ideas that seemed to synthesize themselves, arriving on the written page already finished and requiring virtually no editing at all. the ideas flowed in an order contrary to the way i usually think, exploring the passion of the Christ, forgoing any discussion of resurrection and moving backwards in time from the burial to the passover meal.

break this thieving heart and place it in the ground
turn and walk away as darkness falls all around
pick up all the pieces of your life
as if we'd never met
and maybe then i'd know how to love

crucify this thieving heart-bind it with thorns
strike it with your fists, subject it to scorn
pledge undying faithfulness
and then betray it with a kiss
and maybe then i'd know how to love

take this thieving heart and do with it what you must
feast upon the flesh, forsake its every trust
drink deeply from the cup
it laboured so earnestly to fill
and maybe then
just maybe then
and maybe then i'd know how to love

i find this all very humbling, because when something like this takes place you are left with a sense of divine visitation of sorts. this is what i mean by revelation.

now whether the revelation of God through a person is as dramatic as this example seems to be for me, or simply a moment when the need of another presented itself and a person responded in love and grace, i must conclude that God needs us in order to express these aspects of God's character that fall silent in our absence. the need of God, then, seems to be both contextual and infinite- well, as infinite as the possibilities and opportunities that exist mathematically if we assign a number to every person who has lived, does live and ever will live, and then multiply those numbers by themselves to the Nth power... that's infinite enough for me to represent a pretty huge divine need.

that you and i are part of the meeting of this need causes me to feel incredibly small, yet somehow integral to the 'self actualization of God.'

blaise pascal spoke of the God-shaped void within every human being. could it be that in the heart of God there is a human-shaped void for each of us?

Labels: , , ,