Time to open your 'God box' PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor   
Friday, 23 March 2012 09:37
God is often described as omnipotent, having limitless power. The term is reserved primarily for the divine.
The King James translation reads, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." (Revelation 19:6) Other translations use the term "Almighty God."
Either way, we insignificant humans perched on the third planet from our sun on the edge of a vast galaxy, somehow think we can wrap up the essence of God in simple terms.
We believe what we believe. We resist expanding our thinking to the unlimited possibilities of an almighty God.
We think of God in human terms and thus condense our Creator into a tidy little package - in essence, our very own "God box."
God gives us free will, but little power.
Rev. Kathryn Helleman, a United Church of Christ pastor from Millbury, who also teaches at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, shared her thoughts.
"To think of God in a physical way is to negate the idea of God being beyond time and space. Why would a God who is beyond time and space hang out in time and space except in an act of love and incarnation," Helleman said referencing Christ's coming to Earth as a human.
Adding, "God has the ability to be everywhere in the same moment and to have to live within the boundaries of a human body and within the boundaries of a geographic time and place - that is an incredible gift and an incredible sacrifice."
Most believers understand, yet still follow human nature and create a God box for ourselves.
We know our faith and site scripture to support our beliefs. We sit in the same pew, like the same hymns, and know what God expects of us. We've got our God box and are very comfortable with our God box.
"From my perspective, the smaller we make our God box, the more things we have to deliberately NOT think about," Helleman said. "We have to suspend belief and not think about possibilities."
Each of us, especially during religious seasons such as Lent and Advent, need to challenge ourselves to be open to all possibilities of divine connections.
Helleman said in essence, if we try to narrow the focus of God, in many ways we are trying to reduce God down to a human-size box. God is not that predictable.
She reminds us, "Some things are probable, but anything is possible."
When we can't think beyond our box, we are off course and need to refocus our lives.
"Now we don't have God any more. Now God fits in my back pocket and I can take him where I want him to be. And I can compel him to behave the ways I want to compel him to behave," Helleman said. "And now, in a sense, I'm God and God has become subject to me."
It's wrong, but we do it.
She says both with her students at Winebrenner and with those in her Millbury congregation, she attempts to address those concepts in order to expand people's thinking about our all-powerful God. In both settings she finds "beautiful moments" when she and those she works with get to engage questions and "to recognize sometimes there aren't answers."
Helleman says she likes those moments when someone will say, "I will have to go home and think about that idea."
"That to me is a moment when God has been present in a new way," Helleman said. "That person has a new idea and they have to unpack it in a new way."
She also notes paradoxes in life and faith.
"There is often a paradox. We can't reconcile it and we shouldn't reconcile it," she says.
One example is the concept of Jesus being fully God and fully man.
"If you try to reduce that to something other than fully God and fully man, and you try to tidy up the paradox, you no longer have the incarnation. You have something else," she said.
Humans don't like an anomaly because she says, "they make us itchy and twitchy and uncomfortable."
Helleman said, "You have to accept there are things you can't know."
Thus, the challenge is to simply let go of our human reactions, open our God box and let God be God.

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