“Do you believe in God?” she asked,
with the innocence of the child she was, having heard that perhaps I didn’t.
And, in the short space between her question and my answer,
I thought, Which God would that be?
Would it be the God who commanded Moses,
“The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you,
and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,”
and who declared to Isaiah “My house shall become a house of prayer for all peoples”?
Or would it be the God who came up with the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?
Who lived by the standards “Might Makes Right!” and “The End Justifies the Means!”?
Who invented genocide and the scorched earth policy?
Who commanded Joshua to destroy all who lived in the Land of Promise,
and to show no mercy to anyone under any circumstances for any reason ever?
Would it be the God who is a harsh taskmaster, reaping and harvesting without regard for those who do the sewing and the planting?
Or the God who welcomes the weak and heavy-laden,
whose yoke is easy, whose burden is light?
Would it be the God who demanded the death of God’s only son Jesus Christ our Lord
as the necessary payment—the wages, you might say—for the sins of us all?
Or the God who welcomed the Prodigal home,
killed the fatted calf, and held a great feast honoring his return
for nothing more costly than a well-rehearsed and self-serving “I’m sorry”?
Would it be the God who sent the Army of Heaven to destroy the Great Beast and its legions
for their faithless disobedience, and punish them forever in everlasting fire?
Or the God who, in the guise of a faithless Samaritan,
tended the beaten Jew in the ditch,
and paid for his recovery without inquiring about the quality of his life,
or the degree to which he deserved to be so treated?
Who is the God who is God?
Would the real God please stand up, come forward,
and be accorded the honor of my belief, allegiance and loyalty?
And, of course, they all stand up,
come forward as One, gather around and wait
for me to declare myself to be their servant everlasting,
for they all are God to the core.
Very God of Very God.
“As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end, Amen!”
Here, we are in the presence of the God
beyond the catechisms and confessions of faith,
beyond the creeds and the doctrines,
beyond the eleven o’clock worship services,
and the Sunday school classes,
and the seminary lectures,
and the theologies ad nauseum.
If you are going to go to the trouble of believing in God,
this is the God to believe in,
not some tame, domesticated, house-broken, predictable god
who comes in on cue,
and exits on schedule.
Not some pale, polite, patsy god
stepping in the black footprints,
and reading from a script with predictable plot lines, action and ending.
Not some computer-generated god
spewing out formula speeches,
creating weal and making woe by the book with the title, “How To Be God.”
If you are going to believe in God,
believe in the God who is God, by god!
If you dare! If you can!
If you can, believe in a God who can do it all!
Who can do everything! Anything! At any time! And does!
God can do anything!
We are always saying that, thinking as we say it of almighty, all powerful, omnipotent—
not unrestrained and without inhibitions.
It’s time we revised our thinking.
God is wild.
Wild beyond imagining.
Wild beyond the commonly recognized limits of wildness.
God is irreverent, immoral and unrepentant.
Impertinent, imprudent, off the wall, over the edge, out of sight.
Nothing is off-limits with God.
You have to know that about God.
No holds are barred.
No punches are pulled.
No norms are honored.
No standards served.
Anything goes with God.
Whatever it takes with God.
God will do whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes to do what?
What is God’s plan?
What is God’s angle?
What is God trying to do?
I was hoping somebody would ask these questions!
God’s plan is to do whatever is required by the situation as it arises, unfolds!
What God did in the last minute doesn’t apply to what God might do in the next minute.
God’s plan is to do what is needed, here and now.
God doesn’t rule out any possibilities.
God can do, and does do, absolutely whatever the situation calls for every time.
There is no long range, much less eternal, plan with God.
It’s all day-to-day, moment-to-moment, here-and-now.
Each situation calls for being creatively present for the good of that situation.
God lives here, now, to make this situation as good as it can be.
As you know, from your own personal experience,
the situation does not cooperate with its own best interest.
The situation is the result of forces and impulses,
trends and preferences, that have nothing to do with God or goodness, or even good sense.
Something is always coming along to destroy, decimate, devastate, demolish and disperse—
and God is always reconfiguring, reshaping, reforming what God has done
in order to do what needs to be done here and now
in this mess to restore harmony, and make peace, and bring forth the good—
and calling us to join God in that work.
And if the good of this moment clashes
with the good of the next moment,
God is there to join in the work of making that moment as good as it can be.
In every moment, the good is created anew, on the spot, in light of what is needed then, there.
A cup of cold water.
A kind word.
God turns flips, does handstands, and rejoices at length
over creative responses to the need of the moment.
God delights in doing whatever is required
in the service of the good here and now.
And if good here produces bad there,
it can’t be helped, that’s the way it is.
God joins in the work there to produce good in the bad,
loving it, loving the work.
And if one person’s good in this moment clashes with another person’s good in this moment,
well, we have to work it out.
To God’s great joy, the work is never done!
In this work, God has complete freedom to do whatever it takes—
whatever it takes—
in the service of the good of the moment.
The good of the moment is the only good,
and that good has nothing to do with preconceived notions of good
but with what needs to happen then, there.
It all comes into being in each moment to serve that moment.
And Jesus? A chip off the old block!
Jesus raised the dead and left the dead to bury the dead!
He forgave a guilty woman and cursed an innocent fig tree.
Jesus did whatever the situation required as it unfolded—
healing on the Sabbath one day,
and refusing to give an “evil and adulterous generation” a sign the next day.
You never know what Jesus will do when.
You never know with Jesus, or with God, or with you or me!
We are completely free to do what needs to be done in the situation as it arises,
and must, if we would join God in being as God is!
This is the work of God:
Doing what needs to be done in the situation as it arises, unfolds, no matter what!
Not even God can do more than that!
God on God’s best day cannot do more than what needs to be done in the situation as it arises, unfolds.
You’ll never hear a truth that is truer than this truth. But hold on, it gets better.
When I/you/we all do what needs to be done in the situation as it arises, unfolds,
in the time and place of our living,
we are as God-like as God can be,
which is what Jesus was in being the Christ,
a term that means “The Anointed One.”
Anointed for what?
For making God known, present, real!
When we pull off being what the moment is dying for, we are the Christ as only we can be the Christ,
and God becomes known, present, real in our lives and in the world in that moment.
In order to do what needs to be done,
and make God known, present, real in the situation as it unfolds
in the moment of our living,
we have to get ourselves out of the way.
The only thing standing between us and God,
us and the Christ,
We are our own worst enemy.
And so, the question, “Who’s side are you on?” is always the question.
And the right answer is always:
“Thy will not mine be done—
not as it ever has been done but as it needs to be done
right here, right now!”
What, then, is God’s will here, now?
To see the good and do it!
To know what is being asked of us, what is striving to come forth here, now and to do the thing!
To be done with convention and contriving,
with shrewd, crafty, wily ways,
with covering our bases and counting the cost!
What needs to be done in the situation as it arises, unfolds? Do it!
In this way, every moment is the first moment of creation!
Every situation offers the possibility of a fresh, “Let there be!”
So, let it be! Here! Now!
When we live to serve the good of the moment,
of the situation as it arises, unfolds,
we are not serving our good in the moment,
or being guided by our wishes, desires, ambition, fears.
Freedom is being not-bound
to our wants, interests, tastes, preferences, anxieties, goals, plans, intentions…
The freedom to do what needs to be done
in the situation as it arises is complete freedom.
It doesn’t get freer than that!
And if God is anything,
God is free—to be, and to do,
whatever is needed in the situation as it arises, unfolds!
So, of course, I said,
“Of course I believe in God!
Who wouldn’t believe in a God as wild and alive as God?
May we all be so wild and alive forever!”