By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium
Here are some thoughts that occurred to me the other day as I was waiting at the post office. It was a rather long line and I had a lot of time to think. My thoughts revolved around the nature of God.
Let’s assume for argument sake that God does exist. There is plenty of evidence from nature that he does in fact exist, but I won’t go into those in this column. So, let’s just start with the assumption.
With that as our starting point, we ask the question, what is the nature of God?
Have you ever had that overbearing relative, the parent, brother, or brother-in-law? You go to family reunions after you’ve grown up, and no matter how old or experienced you get, you always have that relative or several of them that are always digging on you, telling you how to live your life, diminishing your capacity, encroaching on your freedom to choose. They always give you unsolicited advice, and after you’ve rolled your eyes for the fifth time, they still go on and on, espousing their philosophy about how you should go forward? “Buy a house! Get out of debt! Get married! Get a better job! Why are you doing that? Don’t you care about your future?” And on and on. It gets annoying, doesn’t it? If you have the capacity, maybe you run away out of town, or maybe even out of state to avoid the constant lectures. That way, you only have to deal with the unsolicited behavior from Uncle Mike on holiday get-togethers. Then it doesn’t get too oppressive and is easier to deal with.
I think a lot of people think that God is that way. His rules are too oppressive, restrictive. If you believe in God then you have to follow his rules and that isn’t any fun. You want to live your life and stretch your wings, find your own sense of fulfillment. You don’t want God looking over your shoulder, like some obscene sky ogre messing everything up. A lot of people I think have this view. There’s a scene in the cult classic series Firefly with main characters Preacher Book and the pirate captain Malcolm Reynolds. Book says something to the effect of, “Everyone loves a preacher!” to which Reynolds says, “No they don’t! Preachers make you feel guilty and judged!” Exactly.
A lot of people are resentful of God and his rules because they resent that relative that is always trying to run their lives. They say that the image of God in people’s minds is driven by their opinion they have of their father and I think to some extent that is true.
But God is not like that. He is quite different. He’s very much like a parent though and he does set down some rules for us when we are young, to keep us safe. He establishes these rules as guild lines so that we more or less follow them in adulthood as a way to live happy lives and keep us out of trouble. A parent establishes bed times and meal times, curfews for teen agers. They establish rules about when we go back in and what time we have to be home. But the rules are always changing, especially as we evolve from children into grown ups. We get more and more freedom to choose for ourselves what we will do, and I think God does the same for us. The basic principles are always there, they just evolve as we get older and more mature. The basic tenants of His law are always with us: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie about a neighbor, don’t be jealous of your neighbor’s stuff. That never changes. But God doesn’t continually nag at you about what you are doing in your day to day life. He isn’t nagging you about taking that job, or investing in a certain way, or marrying the right girl. In otherwords, he’s not like your aunt Milly. Like him, you have free will to choose what you do with your life, within the rules He has set for you. He has established the rules as guidelines for a happy life. Follow them, and you will be happy. Ignore them and you will have to pay the costs. God doesn’t enforce the penalties; the penalties exist all by themselves.
Cheat on your wife, for example, and she will find out. Good luck with that. Three years into the divorce, when you are mad at the ex about custody rules she’s enforced on the kids, and you want them on a certain weekend, a weekend that happens to be hers, reflect on the fact that it’s your own fault that you are here. You declined to follow the rules. Now pay the consequences.
If you embezzle money from your boss, you will eventually get caught. Go ahead and explain to the judge that the rules didn’t apply to you. See how that works out. You’ll be in a small room with bars right across from Bernie Madoff.
Some say the rich and famous don’t pay the same penalties that you would, but they do. In spades. Ever read about celebrity divorces? They are ugly and expensive. Neglected spouses get millions in payouts from their cheater partners and so forth. Politicians are the same way. Look at Anthony Weiner. No don’t, on second thought. He’s gross. But you see what I mean. How about Bill Cosby and OJ Simpson? Sure, their trials came out in their favor, but eventually the consequences do catch up, and it pays a terrible toll. Nobody gets over the consequences.
So really, following the rules God has laid out, only leads to a happier life. Someone explained it to me this way. Have you ever played a game with someone who doesn’t follow the rules? You hit a shot in, and they call it out. You’re playing the new board game and the rules always seem to come down in their favor? That sucks and eventually you stop playing with them because it’s no longer fun any more. That’s what life is like outside the rules. Eventually, it’s no longer fun.
Finally I think the ultimate consequence of a rebellious life is a Hell we create for ourselves. I don’t think God throws people into Hell so much as they throw themselves into their own version of Hell. Just like I don’t think Lucifer is any kind of a lord of the afterlife. I think he and his angel followers will be banished to a far corner of the universe apart from the warmth of God’s love where they will be forever engaged in a never ending battle of King of the Hill. Everyone scratching and clawing for the brief moment on top. And all of us sinners who reject God will be tossed in with them, for eternal misery. I think of it this way. God is the sun. You bask in his light forever like sunbathers on the beach, surrounded by nice people. Or you can be exiled to the darkest cave of the arctic, left to fend for yourself, surrounded by people who hate each other.
That’s it, that’s my theory about the nature of God. As you can see. It was a very long line at the post office that day, and I had a lot of time to think. What do you think? Leave your comments down below.