Tuesday, May 29, 2007,8:58 AM
Comfort as Idolatry
I'm back from our church retreat. It ended up being a good time, relaxing although not granting much sleep.

We spent the weekend examining our conceptions of God. This of course is a very broad topic, but we tried to understand our default assumptions about God and explore the implications thereof as well as push ourselves to expand our views on God. Since all of our language for God is metaphor anyway, to claim full knowledge of God or to even limit our naming of God to one or two terms leads to conceptual idolatry. So while we as finite beings can never capture an infinite God, it helps to be willing to see that God is bigger than the box we usually stick him into.

We employed a number of activities to help us with this process. One activity was to read selections from books that discuss how we conceive of God or that present a picture of God. One of the selections I read was from Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. In it he complains about a writer who conceives of spirituality in trendy ways (assuming that if it is trendy it is therefore wrong). He accuses those who wish to explore new expressions of spirituality of just desiring comfort. He writes, "your problem is not that God is not fulfilling, your problem is that you are spoiled - God is not here to worship me, to mold Himself into something that will help me fulfill my level of comfort."

I see the truth in his words, but also cannot fully accept them. It is easy to just create God in our image. God is not us or a pet we can train. But to condemn an exploration of truth just because it might be trendy and comfortable doesn't seem right either. Too often I see comfort used as the excuse for not letting God out of the box. I hear people say that they intellectually understand that the one or two terms they use for God (Father, Lord) are limiting and tend towards conceptual idolatry, but that they are comfortable with those names for God. It isn't easy for them to use more expansive and inclusive language for God. So because they don't want to be uncomfortable and think about their theology as they pray, they won't let God out of the box they have created for him. Comfort then becomes the idol.

I think that most of us tried to smash those idols and explore a bigger picture of God this past weekend. We had some good conversations especially regarding how our conception of God influences our spiritual practices. I'll try to post about some of those in the next few days.

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posted by Julie at 8:58 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


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