Images of God
God as Fierce Love
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Like many of us, CAC friend Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis has struggled with both the possibility and the pain-points of religion. Healthy religion unites but toxic religion uses God to create more separation and hurt in the world:
Before I made my living talking about God, thinking about God, writing about God, I was a person struggling to have a relationship with God. I had been given a god to believe in, some mixture of what my parents believed, what my preachers taught over the years, and what my imagination made of the parts of the Bible I read. In my early twenties, I often had more doubt than faith—doubt in what I’d learned, doubt in what those teachings implied for my life and for the world. I was frustrated; how is a God whose name is Love appropriated to justify violence, hatred, and enmity around the world? Over and over again, I was struck by how religion—which means to bind together—gave humankind license to hurt others, to put people out, to leave people behind. . . .
In its truest sense, religion should reconnect human beings—bind them again—to the creation, to one another, to the Divine, to Love. Rituals, song, prayer, preaching, reflection, dancing, meditation—all of these religious practices are intended to bind us together in love and restrain us from harming one another. Religion should reconnect us to the ground of our being, to the source of our existence. . . . Religion should help us see how our biases about color, gender, sexuality, and class cause deep hurt to both body and soul.
Jacqui suggests there are harmful images and beliefs about God that need to be let go of before we are able to embrace God as Love:
Unfortunately, religion is too often weaponized. Wars are waged in the name of religion. People are enslaved and terrorized in the name of religion. Wealth has been amassed on the backs of the poor in the name of religion. I’m a Christian pastor, and these are things my tribe has done, all in the name of Jesus. Jews were exterminated, in the name of a poor, brown, Jewish baby who was at one time homeless and at another a refugee.
If humankind is to thrive, we need to let go of any religion that wounds and kills. Some of what we believe about God is actually about us; at times we create God in our own image. In other words, some of us imagine God as punitive, angry, and vengeful because these are aspects of ourselves that make us feel powerful and protected, rather than vulnerable. But we need to exercise a spiritual imagination free of fear and shed the constraints of unhealthy religion. Hate-filled religion needs an exorcism!
In the interest of exorcising hate, I find myself preaching and teaching folks to see through the eyes of Love, to believe with all their heart in Love. I invite them to worship Love, to pray to Love, to be part of Love.
Jacqui Lewis, Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness that Can Heal the World (Harmony: 2021), 129–130, 193–194.
Story from Our Community:
I struggle with questions, am hesitant about reality, and lack confidence in my future; but God’s eternal promise gives me hope. My soul rests with God, so I am in comfort. The power in my life belongs to God and therefore I can love all of his creation. I believe in this promise, so I share my heart with all. —Russell C.
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