Our relationship with God is complicated. We go in and out of wanting to believe, trusting, recognizing miracles, and blaming him for our problems. We go days without thinking about him, and then some hours we think about nothing but him. We’re fickle, powerfully devoted one minute and hopelessly forgetful the next. We stay close when it’s convenient or we think we might get something out of it, and then never call when things are going well. We definitely don’t pull our weight.
On God’s side of things, it’s a little more simple. He knows who we are and who we can become, which makes it much easier for him to not be offended at our relationship faux pas. He knows we are just babies along the path of cosmic progression. He loves us with a real unconditional love, not the kind us mere mortals simultaneously claim we have and fail to exhibit. And he’s a big boy, he can take our crap. Honestly, I’m not sure he even gets frustrated with our inability to have a functional relationship with him. He probably experiences a combination of hilarity and soul-ache more than anything else. I mean, what’s there to be mad about? If we knew better, we’d do better, and so he patiently waits on us to figure it out.
Of course, our vision down here on this planet is muddled. It’s hard to see past the temporal, temporary, fog which makes everything feel so immediate and important. He knows that sometimes that fog clears, for a myriad of reasons not all of which have to do with him. And he knows that in that moment he better be close so we can grasp at the tidbits of eternity and joy which we can feel from his presence. There is no other way. If he leaves, even for a minute, we might be hopelessly lost, and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take. Remember, unconditional love.
But we’re not just relationship idiots, we’re also jerks. We don’t like taking the blame for any of our own actions, and it’s so much easier to pass the buck to someone who’s not even here. Or at least we don’t think he is. Too much fog to really tell most of the time. We blame him for everything. Loss of a loved one? God’s fault. Natural disaster? God’s fault. We screw up and do something stupid? God told me to. All the agency in the world and we’re still saying, “It wasn’t me.” Endless cowardice. But ya know what? He takes it. He lets us talk all sorts of smack about him. He needs to stay close or he’ll lose us, and if that means being the brunt of the joke or the scapegoat for the sin he’ll bear it. After all, that’s what gods do.
So when I look at the scriptures and the countless stories of God’s relationship with man, this is what I see. Screw up after screw up year after year. And most of the time all explained by the people present as what God wanted. Even the cream of the crop, our sent-from-God prophets, sometimes make mistakes. As close as they try to be and usually are, a mortal human is still just a mortal human. That which we define as divine decree in one book is decried as detrimental to our salvation in the next. There are only two constants throughout the whole thing: God stays close and we should follow Christ.
Christ, the one anointed to be the Son of God, with power to deliver man from the enemy of our souls. Christ, the title of Messiah and Savior, which we covenant to take upon ourselves. Christ, the name we give to Jesus, Jehovah, Yeshua, whose divine mission was completed from one garden to another, the epitome of which was on the cross. There is only one way out of this necessary mess we find ourselves in, and that’s through Christ.
We needed to come to Earth. If we’re going to be gods like Father, we need a body, and we need to learn to turn ourselves towards the divine, aka repent. But Earth is a battleground, danger and pitfalls on all sides. We needed a Savior. A Christ. Not just because he atoned for our sins and was resurrected, thereby overcoming the sting of spiritual and physical death. Those ordinances he performed were crucial, and stop us from spiralling uncontrollably away from Father and our godly destiny, but they fall short of perfecting us.
We needed Christ to show us how to be a god. Gods bear the shame of the world, they love unconditionally, and they always stay close to their children even when their choices create fog. These lessons are taught on the cross. Not in any garden, but on a barren mound of dirt. After a life of walking dusty trails teaching, loving, and standing for truth, he led himself to the cross to show us once and for all just what it takes to be a god. And not because he’s so much better than us, but because he truly believes we can all be just like him. Why else would he give so much to show us the way?
Why else does God let us pass through these mortal afflictions? He knows who we will become when we learn to really apply our Christianity. He knows that when we learn to descend below it all we will then know how to truly experience the joy of being above it all. He gives us as much as he possibly can to help us learn these things, including the scriptures. But we look beyond the mark. We are so desperate to be told what to do that we Pharisaically read those scriptures looking for lives to emulate, even knowing that every life but one contained therein falls short of the ideal. And that one ideal life is laid out so clearly there is no need to look anywhere else.
Christ’s gospel contains the fullness of universal truth regarding who we are and who we can become. So what are the rest of the books for? To show us that being a god means staying close. To show us that bearing the shame of the world isn’t just something we do on Earth, it’s something we do for eternity. To show us just what it takes to unconditionally love. And to consistently point us to Christ so we know to whom we can look when we are facing our own crosses. Sounds like eternity is a lot rougher than we like to imagine, and yet there’s something about learning how to overcome any and all pain associated with bearing shame that is freeing and brings joy and hope. What if it’s less finding a place where there is no pain and more finding a self that cannot be hurt?
And if we shouldn’t count on all of those stories to show us how to live, why read anything but Christ’s life at all? Because reading the rest teaches us why we live, not how. We are reminded that Father never leaves us. He never abandons us no matter how much we royally mess things up. When we spend time with our scriptures we are showing Father that we also want to stay close to him, and letting him show us what divine eternal joy can feel like. For those brief moments we are doing our best to clear the fog. When we read to draw near to Father we will always find him with the same eternal message. He loves us. He’s close. And we don’t need to worry, he knows how to deal with our mess. After all, he is a god.