good quote from a good book

When I was a kid I used to listen to this Mark Cohn album over and over. He had a song on it about his father and how his father had a silver Thunderbird and used to get up in the morning, very early, and start the car and go driving down the street. Mark Cohn's father used to say that a Thunderbird is better than a Buick, and a Thunderbird is better than a foreign car, and if there is a God up in heaven, He drives a silver Thunderbird. I like that song, but I don't think God drives a silver Thunderbird. And I know nobody really believes that sort of thing, that God drives a Thunderbird, but there are people who believe other crazy ideas about God.

I've met people who say God is mad at people, throwing dishes like an alcoholic on a binge, and others who paint God as a fairy running through flowers waving a wand at a unicorn. And all these people are convinced they are right.

The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out, and as my pastor, Rick, says, "dissected and put into jars on a shelf." You've got a bunch of Catholics in Rome who think one way about God, and a bunch of Baptists in Texas who think another, and that isn't even the beginning. It goes on and on and on like this, and it makes me wonder if God created us in His image or if we created Him in ours. And it isn't just religion, either.

I met a guy not long ago who was very conservative and had opinions all over him, and he was saying why God agreed with his political ideas and why that made his political ideas right. And I was feeling like this guy with the opinions was presenting a kind of Jesus who didn't even exist. His Jesus was just an invention of his imagination, someone who more or less justified his position concerning a lot of different political opinions. Sitting there listening to him made me feel tired. People like that should have an island.

But I suppose I can't blame him because, in my life, God is always changing the way I think of Him. I am not saying God Himself is changing, or that my theology is open and I blur the lines on truth; I am only saying I think I know who He is, then I figure out I don't know very much at all. For instance, and as I have said, a lot of people believe God responds to formulas, but He doesn't.

So that is one example of how our idea of God is always becoming a bit more accurate. And that's one of the things you notice about Jesus in the Gospels, that He is always going around saying, “you have heard it said such and such, but I tell you some other thing.”

If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying.

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bjk said...

WHat a journey you know....the more questions there are the more He is the only answer but then there are just more questions....??

Sister Mary Hasta said...

I've always thought faith was more like the ability to fly as explained by Douglas Adams in the HG2G series (it's not in the first book, but it's in the other four. Yes, the trillogy has five books). You see, the way to fly is to begin to fall, and then get so distracted that you forget to hit the ground. The instant your brain says, "Um, shouldn't I be obeying the laws of gravity? This isn't how the Universe works!" you crashboombangouch! to the ground.

Danielle said...

Wow. Great post, Jimmy. Much food for thought. I am also guilty of shaping God, trying to put Him into some context that I could understand.

I'm more or less trying to live by the code: God is love. It's a start.

Anonymous said...

Don Miller is brilliant, isn't he? Do you think he's single? If I underlined when I read his books, the whole book would be underlined. Thanks for sharing this part.

jimmy said...

Hey Gina, I'm not sure if he's single... He's gonna be speaking in Walnut Creek on May 19th-20th, you wanna go find out?!?!?

check out www.renewalproject.org

Anonymous said...

How do you know that he's going to be at that conference? I couldn't find his name anywhere on the website. Are you gonna go?

jimmy said...

You have to click through to the brochure. Here it is:

I'm not sure if I am going to be able to go. It's a two day conference and I'd only be able to go for one day.

cynical-idealist said...

I came across your blog by pure chance, and I think it's a Godsend. I've been wrestling with the very issues of "culture driven" Christianity that you blog on here, and it's been highly enlightening to read your blog. You hit the nail on the head on so many issues deluding Christians today. And it's helped me reconcile some aspects of my faith. Thank you.

God bless.