Being Easter, churches across the world will be filled by the regular Christmas and Easter crowds who show up because of obligation and guilt. If God is real shouldn’t we want to worship on a regular basis and not to avoid getting in trouble with family? Reading my Bible this week I came across two of Jesus’ analogies: “The Lost Coin” and “The Lost Sheep”. These stories are typically used to teach about the excitement in heaven when someone comes to faith in God, but for some reason while I was reading these passages all I could think was why is anyone being lost in the first place? Losing something is a sign of incompetence. Is God incompetent? If He’s real, why are people being “lost”?
In “The Lost Coin” the main character is a woman who is so excited about finding a lost coin that she calls her neighbors over to celebrate. First off, if my neighbor called me over to celebrate she found her lost coin, um, I’ve got better things to do than to celebrate the recovery of your being irresponsible. I’m guessing the coin wasn’t like a nickel. If she was that happy over a nickel I’m avoiding her in general because she’s crazy. On the other hand, if the coin she lost and found had a lot of value then why’d she lose it in the first place? If I was a child and I told my parents I lost my coin – even a nickel – they’d scold me and tell me that’s what happens when you’re careless. Is God like a child who keeps losing things he values? Are the angels cheering in heaven because one less person suffers for God’s carelessness? If a husband were to lose the coin… that’d be normal: (husband) “Honey, where’d I put it again?” That’s one of the many reasons men need wives, to keep track of their keys, receipts, socks, glasses, marbles, etc. Is that the problem? Does God need a wife?
In “The Lost Sheep” if a shepherd loses a lamb doesn’t that mean he sucks at his job? If he lost a sheep was he sleeping or too busy daydreaming? Was he spending too much time with one of the other sheep (keep it clean) grooming or mending a wound? How’d he lose the lamb? Sure he has a 100 sheep, but pay attention; that’s your job or at least ask for help if it’s too much for you. And if you do lose one, don’t leave the ninety-nine on their own because more could go missing. It doesn’t make any sense. One went missing so I’m going to leave the others alone even though that increases the chances of more getting lost or some being eaten? Is that why God feels distant? He’s too busy caring about other people or countries?
I don’t mean to criticize God – I keep waiting for lightening – but I can’t help but feel a little concerned for humanity; why isn’t God more careful? If He’s losing people like the widow lost a coin or the shepherd lost a lamb, is he really as in control as some Christians claim? If He was that in control of the world, it does seem strange there’d be such a celebration in heaven for someone coming to faith. The celebration actually suggests a lack of control: “Someone came back; what a surprise!” I think it’s fair to say this has become a common complaint: why isn’t it easier to believe? This is essentially asking: if God is really there why doesn’t He have more engagement with His so-called creation?
As a believer and pastor I don’t have a good answer. There’s the traditional we have free choice or God’s plan is bigger than us or God works in mysterious ways (e.g. the whole concept of Easter is crazy; the Son of God died?) These answers can be satisfying at times or to certain people, but I still can’t help but wonder at times is God incompetent or just too busy to care about us? I don’t have a good answer, but I have two decent questions; I know that’s not what people want because that’s not really what I want, but when I feel like I’m lost or alone I need to ask:
- Do I let God be engaged with me or am I like a child in the corner trying to hide and God’s just giving me space?
- What do I expect it to look like for God to be engaged with creation? Maybe He is; it’s just not the way I want or expect.
The one thing about death I look forward to is being able to ask God why He didn’t impose Himself more in people’s lives. Theologians will say we are the hands and feet of God, therefore, people experience Him through His believers, but sometimes I’d like to see the body that goes along with the hands and feet, especially when these hands and feet typically smell and crush more things than help. What I do know is that in these stories Jesus uses characters who are lower in society. He uses the poor, the widow and the shepherd, because those are the people who are typically more willing to let God be involved. The more money we have, the more we tend to ignore God or play “god”. Is God incompetent or is He just hidden behind all the crap I put before Him? When you rely on God to bring rain to grow crops it’s easier to look to Him than it is if you can just drive up to a grocery store. Maybe I’m missing out on experiencing God because I live such a comfortable life… maybe it’s not God being incompetent, but me being spoiled that’s the problem.
This Easter may you consider what you’d like God’s involvement in the world to look like and may you see it in abundance.
Rev. Chad David, EmotionalSex.ca, ChadDavid.ca