Children of a Lesser God?

Do Christians relegate themselves to ‘children of a lesser god’ status? If so, why?

God, as we understands him/her, in the old and new testaments, is the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of the universe. Now let me reiterate. The UNIVERSE. Not just North America, Europe or Antartica. Not just the Milky Way. The Universe. God is the mind of the UNIVERSE!

Then why do we, as Christians, so often minimize her mind, his thoughts, its favor to the 21st century United States of America? Well, I suppose this happens to be the place that some 300 plus million human beings find themselves in this day and age. And 300 million people can’t be wrong, can they?

And that goes for ANY peoples or places.

What make anyone person or people pound their chest and shout, “Me!” or “US!”

Maybe this passage offers a clue…

Mark 35-45  The Message

“35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”

36 “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”

37 “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”

38 Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”

39-40 “Sure,” they said. “Why not?”Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”

41-45 When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Why try to squeeze GOD into that small box and behave as though he favors anyone over anyone else? Why some over some other places, persons, or peoples? Navel gazing? Narcissism? Patriotism?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do feel that people often reduce God to their private plaything. That they take her out and play with her when they feel like it. That he answers to their beck and call, and not vice versa.

And God is not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the lot of us.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” NLT

Before God even thought/spoke the universe into existence, Christ WAS. And later, “The word became human and made his home among us.”

The entire concept is mind-blowing. That’s because it is the mind of God. Our teeny tiny, imbecilic brains cannot even pretend to begin to understand God. And so. “The word became human and made his home among us.”

The question remains. Why do we reduce God to a lesser status? Why do we not allow God to be God in all her fullness?

Fear? Stupidity? Lack of understanding? Selfishness? Cultural conditioning?

The answer is, possibly, all of the above and so much more.

And that last word of the previous sentence, more. Why, so often, do we settle for so much less? Why not MORE? More… of God. More… of life. More… of love. If we allowed our desire for God to bring us more, instead of less, would it require something of us? Would it, yes, take us out of our comfort zones? Would it demand something in return?

The answer to all of these questions is, again, possibly yes. God does require something of us. God does take us out of our comfort zones. God DOES ask something in return.

As the old saying goes, God came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?

Romans 12:1

“And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” NLT

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” NIV

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” NRSV

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” The Message

The apostle Paul appeals to the church at Rome to respond to God’s love and sacrifice, in Jesus Christ, in this way, to offer our whole person to him. Our whole self. Our total person.

God wants all of us, including our minds. That “mind of the universe” asks our minds of us.

From the Traffic song, “Heaven Is In Your Mind”…

“You ride on the swing in and out of the bars
Capturing moments of life in a jar
Playing with children, acting as stars
Guiding your vision to heaven and heaven is in your mind
Take extra care not to lose what you feel
The apple you’re eating is simple and real
Water the flowers that grow at your heel
Guiding your vision to heaven and heaven is in your mind.”

Grace and peace.

Transformation

Transformation. Just what does transformation entail? I suppose it depends on who or what is performing the transformation on whom.

Here is the short take from Merriam-Webster:

“: a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc.”

Rather trite? Maybe, upon first glance, but the “etc.” is what caught my attention as I considered the definition more carefully. Etc. Really?

Etcetera “is a latin expression that means ‘and other things, or and so forth’.” This, according to Wikipedia.

One just as well might say, “and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby…”

Which brings us to the song, Everyday People, by Sly and the Family Stone. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Consider it:

“Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah

There is a blue one
Who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one
Trying to be a skinny one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
We got to live together

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a long hair
That doesn’t like the short hair
For being such a rich one
That will not help the poor one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
We got to live together

There is a yellow one
That won’t accept the black one
That won’t accept the red one
That won’t accept the white one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
I am everyday people”

We, as individuals and as a society, could be TRANSFORMED if we took the message in this song seriously.

And while we ponder the lyrics of a 60’s pop song, which was the band’s first single to go to number one, let’s stick our toes into the fount of one of the apostle Paul’s charges to the church in Rome.

Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” New Living Translation

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good and perfect will.” New International Version

Here is the take on Paul’s word from The Message. “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

We’ve gone from Merriam-Webster to Sly and the Family Stone to the apostle Paul. How about that?

Transformation.

Aren’t most all of the resolutions that are made, and often unkept, at the beginning of a new year simply attempts at transforming our lives?

We want want to change. We strive to do better. We seek peace, love, happiness, and fulfillment. And much of our seeking and striving is sought in the ways of the world. Some fad. Some  diet. Some trend. But, the path to transformation cannot, permanently, be found in popular culture or the ways of the world.

“I don’t care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul”

These are lyrics taken from Radiohead’s hit, ‘Creep’. Ain’t it so?

Jesus taught us, in the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33  New King James Version.

God wants us to be transformed far more than we are willing to allow transformation to take place. Transformation involves change. A change of heart. A change of attitude. A change of habits. A change in the way we look at the world. A change in the way we think.

In order to be transformed, we must see ourselves, and the world, through the eyes of Christ.

The apostle Paul was living proof of this. He went from persecuting Christians to becoming a Christian himself. Now THAT is a transformation.

I reiterate his words found in Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” New Living Translation

Happy New Year!

Grace and peace.