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Calling Simple Simple

There are two views of the God/faith relationship.   People either view God as simple and faith as complex, or God as complex and faith as simple.

Simple faith in a complex God leads to eternal fascination.  Complex faith in a simple God leads to self absorption.

Say what you want about the simple church movement or people professing to desire to simplify their lives – when it comes to faith, people grow increasingly introspective and complex.   This assertion, of course, is greeted with a deafening “yeah, so?” from our culture.

Of course our faith is complex.  Our lives are complex.  Our emotions, our hearts, our problems, our disorders, these all grow in complexity and depth, particularly when we wallow in them.     We think ourselves far too important and deep to yield in simple faith.

And God?  Let Him be simple.   Let Him be the forgetful, cosmic grandpa we wish Him to be.  Theology is too fussy of a thought to be bothered with – too complex for our busy lives.  Let Him be reduced to a word like peace or love or understanding.  Make a slogan of Him.   Make Him a symbol I can tattoo on my arm without using much skin space in case I want to add another tattoo later.  Keep Him shallow, no more than 2 dimensions, easily referenced from any bumper in the church parking lot.

But faith?  Allow it to get as muddy as necessary.  Let there be no absolutes – faith has got to be pliable…multifaceted…allowing for numerous caveats and unusual circumstances that allow me to get around or under the didactically driven religious system that I knew as a child.

I have evolved.  I have grown broader.  I have grown more tolerant.  I have had experiences I can’t ignore and my faith must accommodate all of these.

What I’m trying to say is that I personally must be accommodated.   It’s my faith, after all.   It’s not enough that the church has made great strides in not cramping my style.    I want to see to it that Simple God does the same because I have a complex faith.

In case you’re wondering, the last few paragraphs have been complete malarky.  God is not that simple, and faith is not that complex.

God, the most intentional being in the universe, cannot be boiled down like tea leaves to be gazed upon and read in five minutes.  He can’t be brought low to some baseline number that we all measure up well against.

He is peace.  He is love.  He is understanding.

He is also warlike and jealous.  He is the God with eyes of fire, not the blank-stare Stepford god our self help books and pop stars make Him to be.   He is the most both/and being ever encountered, and He wants to be all of it to you.    He came to bring you life, not Quaaludes.

Your faith?  Let that be simple.  Don’t unnecessarily complicate it by forcing it to fit your hang-ups.  Mold your behaviors and social mores to His standards – don’t redraw the lines so He melds to yours.

The most profound prayer has always been yes.

Simple faith says yes.  It breaths deep of complex truth, omnipotent power, everlasting love and untapped beauty and says yes.   It whispers more than it speaks.  It speaks more than it screams.  It’s silent more than it talks at all.   It shuts up and listens.  It doesn’t make excuses, it makes changes.

And it’s not about you or me.  

We’re the simple ones.


10 Responses

  1. AMEN. I don’t usually comment just to say “amen”, but…wow. This stopped me in my tracks.

  2. Wow. Nothing more to say.

  3. Thank you.

  4. powerful..

  5. That’s profound. Can I ask what started that train of thought?

  6. I was just watching Lion, Witch, Wardrobe the other day and the line “He is not a tame lion” jumped out at me. This is no dog and pony show with us as the ringmaster. It’s good to be reminded of that. Thanks.

  7. Wow. Conviction.

  8. But what if God and faith are complex? Is that possible? 🙂 By faith being complex, I don’t mean it being malleable like silly putty and picking up whatever from the daily newspaper – but I hope it is as mysterious and nuanced as our God (whom we’re called to be like) and real life.

    Thought-provoking post!

  9. Great post! Thanks for being the vessel that delivered this much needed message!

  10. […] 3 Answers Posted on January 5, 2009 by randybohlender Last Friday’s post entitled Calling Simple Simple generated a couple of questions that I thought I’d answer here, along with another bit of […]

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