The 6th century Greek philosopher named Xenophanes wrote: “If horses had gods, they would look like horses.”
Explains why I grew up thinking of God as this big dude (a bigger and unlimited version of me) in the sky who was neither limited nor weak like I am but who actually intervened from time to time on my behalf – but usually after I prayed and pleaded and “believed,” as the TV preachers sternly declare you must in order for God to hear.
This god has slowly died in me over the years.
Oh, he is still very much alive but I can say with some confidence that I am learning to live more and more free of this “make-believe” god who is still so popular with television preachers and politicians and very many people…(and, that’s all OK, as everyone must follow their own spiritual path – or lack of it).
But, for me, I am learning to live more and more…
…free of this make-believe Santa Claus in the Sky.
Instead, I am learning to live by faith…a faith in that which I can neither see nor manipulate with my prayers or my demands that he act because, after all, the Bible says whatever I ask for “In Jesus’ Name” I will get…
IF I JUST “BELIEVE.”
Well, the Christians in some places in this world believe or are pleading and praying and asking that God rescue them…but they’re being executed, some beheaded…
Don’t get me started…these TV preachers know a different god than I know today.
I am learning to trust in that which I cannot see, who cannot be limited by my “beliefs” or defined by my words – much less those “bound” and “sacred” words I used to claim were the words on an “infallible” Bible I carried around under my arm like a big stick…making God offers he could not refuse.
When you can learn to live by faith – and not by your beliefs or other crutches you confuse for faith – then you can begin to understand with me what the writer of Hebrews was trying to say, albeit with much limitation, when he (or, she or they) said…
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” Or, as this paraphrase puts it: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
Notice it is FAITH or TRUST (neither of which, I remind you, has ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with words you say or beliefs you hold – it is instead the WAY you live) it is this “trust” that is “our handle on what we can’t see.”
It’s what set our “ancestors above the crowd.”
Not in the sense that they were better or holier or more “sanctified” – whatever the hell that means.
It just means that TRUST is what distinguished them from almost everybody else.
It is THIS faith I pursue.
It is THIS faith that truly “pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6).
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