Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What Does God Want?

John 14:14

It's not true.

My parents and I were talking about the Rabbi who obliterated the memory of the Zoroastrian people in one column, and I asked my father is there something in the Zoroastrian books akin to the Old Testament where God warns the Hebrews against worshipping idols lest he scatter them (for ignoring Him, He exiled them to Babylon)? Did the Zoroastrians do something so egregious that God has caused them not only to be decimated but to have the memory of their very existence wiped out? He laughed and said that we do not have that kind of belief where God plays an active part in our society or individual lives. You see, he said, God's spirit dwells in us, but also we are human. And life is about which voice we will listen to. In Christian terms, do we listen to the spirit of God in us or the whispers of Satan without? Who we pay more attention to affects our thoughts. Those thoughts will influence our words. And our words will move us to behave in certain ways. And then others will know: did we listen to God or did we listen to our human impulses (or Satan)?

The Zoroastrian creed of good thoughts, good words, good deeds is the shortcut way of saying the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Jesus teaches us how to school our hearts (thoughts), for they affect our behaviour towards others (adultery, murder, public prayer). Zarathustra teaches us self-control so that we can hear and obey the spirit of God within us. Both said that first we must worship God above all others and hold His name sacred. But what do you do when God leads you along narrow paths, cracks open a door of opportunity, then puts a ferociously fat fuckin' obstacle in your way? How will good thoughts and a clean heart obliterate that obstacle? How will worshipping Him above all others make me feel better? And what the heck does He want from me anyway?

Zoroastrians, as I was taught, don't believe God interferes in our personal lives. He creates us and gives us our talents and gifts to use for the benefit of humankind. But once created, we're on our own. It is up to us to listen to God's voice within us -- or not -- and to make choices to use those talents and gifts in a good way -- or not. Self-reliance doesn't get you anywhere though when a honkin' big obstacle, beyond your ability to move, stands in your way. On the other hand, the Bible lets us in on the fact that we're all in the same crappy boat. Job, in the end, cried to God to come down and 'splain Himself for all the suffering he'd endured. He didn't, of course. But He did restore Job. The woman in the road challenged Jesus, when he refused her pleas for help, by replying that even the dogs get the crumbs under the table. Jesus tossed her the crumbs and changed his ministry to include the Gentiles. The lesson: God is there for us. But when God refuses to respond and does not take that obstacle away, what do you do?

As Job's wife said, curse God and die?

Or wait?

Cursing God is to deny His existence and to no longer talk to him nor have a relationship with Him. It isn't swearing at Him until you pass out, come to, and start up again while you wait for His bloody perfect timing. Swearing is infinitely more satisfying than cursing. (And at this point my mail program announced the arrival of spam from an address at royalgrace.org.)

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