Monday, October 17, 2016

When we are angry with God, we could well be guilty of worshipping a false God.

The first commandment clearly states that we shalt not have other gods before the Lord our God.  This commandment appears to be simple and straightforward, making it a sine qua non that we pay the divine honour to God and God alone, and not to any created thing or creature.  Yet, I have come to see that one of the greatest spiritual problems that we have as Christians is to truly live out this commandment at its core. 

This is seen quite evidently when we make God into a thing, and things become gods for us.  We worship all sorts of things and almost give them a divine status in the way that they rule and govern our lives.  Without them we find ourselves floundering and anxious, and if they are not within easy reach, we feel uneasy.  A simple test will show what we are controlled by in life.  Imagine our lives without these things or persons.  It could be our spouses, our work, or even something as seemingly frivolous as the Internet connection.  If our world becomes unmanageable and we have lost a sense of self, it could be a strong indication that we have made these persons or things into gods without realizing it. 

Spiritual teachers who are astute have always been telling us this in various ways.  While I am grateful for their counsel, I have also come to see that the ways these false gods insidiously make their ways into our lives also take a form that may not involve things or persons, but our notions of God that are unlike who God truly is.  Perhaps this needs some explication.

Spiritual sophisticates would be able to spot a mile away how material things and possessions can usurp God’s place in our lives.  It isn't all that hard to spot the 3 P's that often make up the false gods that many worship, the 3 being Power, Position and Pleasure.  I would think that the majority of my readers are reflective and give due consideration to what the heart is easily swayed by or given over to.  But what if the false god that we are exhorted to do away with are actually the images god that we have held true for the greater part of our lives? 

In the confessional, one of the things that I hear so often is that the penitents tell me that they are guilty of being angry with God.  When pressed further for details, it is usually the revelation that the had been angry with God for being slow on responding to prayer, or for not answering their heartfelt prayers and petitions.  It is in charity that I invite them to see that their ‘sin’ is not that of anger, but rather that it could be that they were guilty of sin against the first commandment – of not only worshipping another god, but of creating a false god.

We create false gods with far greater ease than we dare imagine.  This happens when our notion of God is predicated on the way that he ought to answer our cries for help, our demand for justice and our pleas for victories.  While it is certainly not wrong to pray for such things, an important part of prayer is that we ask too that God’s will be done.  This implies openness to not having our pleas met as we would want. 

When we have a fixated and spiritually rigid concept of God that we worship, what may shock us is to find out that in reality, he is really so different and dissimilar from our ingrained and entrenched God of our imaginings.  If we are then angry with that God for not fulfilling his divine role that we have given him, it would be anger directed at a god of our creation than God in truth. 

The erudite Mark Twain is remembered for having said this about his own father.  In recalling how his estimates of his parents had changed through the years, he said that at seventeen he could scarcely endure his father, saying that the old gentleman was so ignorant.  At twenty, he noticed that his father said sensible things occasionally.  At twenty-five he was astonished at improvement his father had made in the last eight years. 

Obviously, it wasn’t so much that Twain’s father had improved and gained insight into life, but rather than Twain himself had matured and appreciated his father for who he was.  When we are angry with God, perhaps it is a similar problem that we are battling with in our spiritual maturation process.  God, as we know and are taught, is immutable. 

How we view God, how we relate with him, and how much we allow him to truly be our God is what needs to grow and mature. 

1 comment:

  1. "If we are then angry with that God for not fulfilling his divine role that we have given him, it would be anger directed at a god of our creation than God in truth."

    This post is an interesting read!

    Sacred scriptures and church tradition have taught and reminded us of a self revealing God, and yet, paradoxically we are warned against depicting God in images -just refer to first two of the Ten Commandments. For we are told that the One Worthy of Worship cannot be contained in images - be it visual or intellectual. God is mystery.

    Yet this does not stop us from saying many things about him.....describing him however imperfectly, in words and symbols....for it is naturally human for us to want to talk about him and share him with others.....all this in our imperfect human way. So what you have said above about people being angry with God coz he has "not (been) fulfilling his divine role...' seems strange if not laughable , as he is cast like a miserable potentate chained to respond with immediacy the demands of his worshippers. Why then bother to worship or pay obeisance to such "a puppet of a god"?

    I feel that in such cases, the people mentioned are more frustrated with themselves and angry with themselves at their utter helplessness or impotency to 'arrange life events to their liking.' It would seem to be the same old sin of Lucifer......or in today's parlance - egotism. For they are angry with the God who is a figment of their they are unable to accept their finiteness.
    I like what Isaiah 55: 8-9 says about...." for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways ...."

    God bless u, Fr.