Tuesday, September 1, 2015

But the King's Own Army None Can Overthrow

"who is this king of glory?  the lord strong and mighty, the lord mighty in battle."  so says verse 8 of psalm 24.  i wonder how much suffering resulted from this kingly image of God, this god of war.   how many wars have been fought with all sides claiming that God is on their side?  how many victories have been credited to God's favor?  how many have been killed in the name of God?

in our church's wednesday night bible studies, we are investigating the teachings and preaching of charles spurgeon, the famous 19th-century british preacher.  on one of these wednesday studies, we contemplated spurgeon's image of a christian approaching the throne of God, as God sat in majesty.  that image seemed too earthly for me.  i thought of spurgeon, steeped in the the traditions of british respect for the monarchy with great britain at the height of its imperial power, seeing a god who is the heavenly embodiment of the english sovereign and wondered if this is the image of God that we ought to have in our heads, if indeed we ought to have any image of God.

if God has neither form nor substance, should we create such for God?  when we do, are we not worshiping a god of our own imagining?  this battle-king god of the old testament is far from the God about which jesus teaches.  we must choose between a God of love and a god of war, the latter being the justification for all sorts of oppression and cruelty that humans visit on one another.

may we never pretend to understand God as a human-writ-large.  instead, may we revere the mystery that is God, not daring to believe that we have found a solution to that mystery.  may we replace certainty with doubt, with searching, with dissatisfaction when it comes to answers that come too easily.  may we see God in every act of love.  shalom.

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