I’ve noticed something weird that sometimes happens on Stuff Christians Like. When I write about the goodness of God, some of the comments are quick to point out just the opposite. I’m not sure if it’s an over reaction to prosperity ministry or just our struggle to believe in a loving God, but there’s times when we Christians can’t say fast enough how difficult a life with Christ is. We react to words of his love for us with as many verses about the challenge of faith that we can find. It’s a strange way to react to grace and probably stems from the fact that it’s too good to be true.
Grace can’t be this easy. Grace can’t be this available. Grace can’t be this accessible.
We shouldn’t get a party when we’ve blown it. And, yet we do, and sometimes when people discuss that, we get uncomfortable.
Those conversations, those moments, always remind me of this post, which is why I thought it might be good to talk about God and Bob Schneider again.
Bob Schneider is one of my favorite musicians on the planet. He is a songwriter of catastrophic talent and his lyrics are beautiful and challenging. He once wrote a song about God. It explored some really interesting concepts about who God is in some ways that could easily be taken as offensive. So, Bob was forced to change the lyrics and in a brilliant stroke of sarcasm explained the whole situation this way:
“We had to change one word in the song. Basically because I was just afraid we were going to offend a lot of people. Basically I’m all about the money when it comes to making records. It’s cash first. It’s give me the money and you know forget art, as it were, forget the original artistic integrity of the song. Just make sure that I can appeal to as many people as humanly possible so that I can make the most amount of money so that I can have the biggest, fanciest steaks and most comfortable socks to wear on my feet. So, anyways, we changed one of the words.”
One of the reasons Bob had push back was that some people understandably felt the song made light of the Lord. It did not respect the seriousness of God. And I was reminded of the Bob/God incident recently by a comment someone left on this site. It was a good comment, well written and it felt very honest, but one of the lines stuck out to me:
“Children’s programs that substitute for regular services do your kids the disservice of not inculcating the seriousness of God.”
I confess, I had to look up “inculcating” because I’m not so smart and it means “to teach.” That sentence is only one line of a much longer comment and the next line starts out with “God is joyful,” so it’s not that the author sees God as a monster of seriousness. But I was paused on this line because it forced me to wrestle with a question:
“Do people have a harder time seeing God as a serious entity or seeing God as a joyful, loving entity?”
I know the answer in my own life. I have never, ever struggled to see God as a serious individual. I have never doubted that when you enter His court, there are serious issues on the table and serious discussions and serious missions. In addition to writing about how I have often “painted God mad,” I would say that for more than 30 years on this planet, I have been awash in the seriousness of God.
But love has been so much harder. Seeing God as someone that laughs with me and kids with me and rolls down hills of grass with me on lazy Tuesdays in June has been such a bigger challenge. Seeing Him as someone that cares about the little things that no one else notices or as someone that collects my tears in a jar, as Psalms says, has been difficult. Believing that it gives Him joy to see me writing or playing Frisbee or a million other things has been hard.
Things are changing though. In the last few years, He has been showing me that He is more flowers than thistles, more laughter than wrath, more open hand than closed fist. Is He serious? Without a doubt. Do I still feel like it’s a big deal to come into His court? Certainly, only now I think it’s OK to arrive there by water slide.
I’d like to close this post with a small opportunity.
I thought it might be cool to share something today. I’d love to just open up the idea of expressing who God is. To confess or laugh or shout or share or whatever you feel like doing.
I’ll go first with three of my own “God is” statements:
God is serious, serious about loving me in any way possible.
God’s love is ridiculous to me.
God is big enough for my anger, small enough for my whispers and strong enough for my worries.
So what do you think?
Finish this statement as many times as you want:
God is ________