I was in a car with my sister in laws’ husband in the Finnish Archipelago. We were discussing culture and indigenous expressions of Faith in God. Now this guy is smart, really smart a Phd. of some sort. And apparently the conversation was at least somewhat intellectually stimulating to him. I am not sure he would consider himself to be a religious person. As we were discussing he turned to me, boiling it all down and said “What is that God wants from us?”
What a question, that may be the question. The one humanity has been grappling with from the beginning. I don’t remember what I said. Probably something that at least on the surface sounded smart. I’m not certain that my response was even close to adequate considering the magnitude of the question. I have since thought a lot about that question, and still think a lot about it.
I think that different people have different answers to this question, as is evidenced by the various religions of the world, (I will for the sake of simplicity include things such as science and philosophy in this category because they really function as pseudo religions).
Think about it, how you see God determines how you answer that question. If you see him as a judge for example, always inspecting your actions, thoughts, religious practice etc. well then he wants you to do things right, or the right way. If you see him as a clockmaker that wound up the universe with a bang and let it loose to take care of itself, well then he perhaps wants us to play our part, like cogs in a machine, and nothing more. So then how we view God determines how we answer the question of what he wants.
I know some people who are so concerned with believing the right things. They so much so that if you don’t intellectually assent to that which they do, well then you are going to end up in hell. They seem to be so concerned with reading the right translation of the bible for instance, or using the right terminology. It makes me wonder how they see God. I personally have trouble with picturing God up in heaven being so concerned about which book this or that person is reading all the while millions are starving in Africa and dying of Aids. And the whole idea of God being off in heaven separated from the daily muck that we find ourselves in, how do we come up with that idea? What kind of lonely religion does that lead to?
When thinking about all this type of stuff I am challenged to look at my thoughts and practices as indicators to how I truly picture God. Is he judging, critical or distant to me? Do my thoughts, practices and human interactions betray these conceptions of Him? Do yours?
I am also reminded of a little part of a prayer which begins “Our Father…” And I wonder how I answer the question when I view God as a loving Father. How do you answer the question of what God wants from us when you view him as a loving Father?