Is God into Religion?
It is not uncommon that once an ‘aha’ moment occurs, what you now perceive seems blatantly obvious. How could I not see what was right in front of my eyes. It reminds me of looking through binoculars and with a slight, almost accidental change in focus, a magnificent eagle is suddenly visible. For a time, the bird is all you can watch and the landscape is framed by its presence.
I recently had one of those and I am still rapt in attention by not only its presence but the implications, which days later I sense I have only begun to explore. Because you are not me, and not on my journey, what I am about to tell you may seem uninteresting and banal. However, it changes something fundamental for me personally, and I have the sense of stepping off a precipice through an unanticipated portal and into a place of reorientation.
God is NOT a religious being.
There was never a time when God was religious. Prior to creation, there was no religion at all. There was never an order of service, or sacred space, or segmented times for meditation and prayer. There was never a question about who would serve communion or collect the tithe. It has always been and only is a relationship; the Great Dance of other-centered, self-giving love in which no Person is absorbed nor diminished.
One implication is immediate and stunning: ALL religion originates with us as human beings who are trying to make some sense out of the darkness of turning away from that relationship. Did you hear me? ALL religion. Every kind, type and vestige of religious practice and ideology is something that we as humans brought to the table. I want to explore this further at the Open Table Conference, but for now just give you a taste.
Couple this with a God who by nature submits, and you suddenly get a little view into the almost unimaginable interaction of God with us in our religiosity. Because God is unrelenting pursuing love that has a high view of the human creation, God will submit to all the religion that we have originated and that has become ‘real’ to us. Through that lens now look at the history of humans and you will begin to see God constantly entering our religious boxes, not only to be with us, but to be a disruptive influence, a love that will begin to enfold and submit with the intent to destroy.
One example: God HATES sacrifice. HATES it. Read the prophets. Once you start looking for it, it is everywhere. The story of Abraham and Isaac is not a story that supports sacrifice, specifically child sacrifice, but a confrontation against Abraham’s religion that was centered on sacrifice, appeasement and magic. God enters our religion to sow the seeds that will destroy it. The prophets knew it, and Daniel looks forward to the day when the One would come who would make the sacrifice to cease. To help Abraham take the baby steps toward freedom by giving him a new revelation of God’s own nature and character, a new name, Jehovah Jireh. It is the first time uttered in the Hebrew Scriptures. Because you need a sacrifice, I will be the One who provides, I will provide Myself.
The entirely of Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, can be now seen through this lens. It is the story of the violence and fury of love that destroy our religion by entering and submitting to it, and with our participation transforming and transcending. The idols of our religion are become icons and monument of grace.
And not only for Judaism and Christianity, but I suspect this is happening inside the box of every religion that human beings have manufactured to control the cosmos and God, or win the affection and approval of God from whom we falsely believed we were powerful enough to separate ourselves.
God is not a religious being, and will not stand idly by while the ones They love are chained to their false convictions and systems. The travesty of love is submission and the subversive creativity of God is the slow, inexorable and sure destruction of religion even as the revelation of relationship emerges as the Truth of existence.