My guess is that we’ve ground our teeth at hearing an automated reply to our phone calls; become rather anxious at the robots that can take our money by voice or by pressing buttons; and roll our eyes at the muzak we hear as we’re told to wait – that it is very busy time – no matter when we ring – but that our call is important. So I chuck-led when reading a brief snippet from Oliver Pritchett (The Daily Telegraph cited in The Week) who thinks that the reason he can’t get through is that all the people on the other end of the line are actually speaking to other call centre opera-tives about their hassles and breakdowns – com-munication people speaking to water people – the water people speaking to the gas people, etc etc. “This is the way the world will end, with the total population hanging on the telephone, in a queue, while a recorded voice thanks them for their pa-tience and explains that it is an exceptionally busy time.” My chuckle became a laugh!
But I did wonder whether that is the way many peo-ple view God – his lack of presence – the non answering of prayers that people can list – the idea of judgement (queuing?) – with a similar cynicism that comes with our dealing with corporations or bureaucracy. When every time is a busy time, then we know we’re being played. When everyone is special, we know we’re not. Words are no longer distinctive but soup to feed us and manipulate us. Of course our cynicism grows.
And I can understand this distancing we put between ourselves and God. I believe in God and I know my frustration at times when with all my theology, my limited under-standing of theodicy, my ability to spell ‘anfechtung’, my knowing that Jesus’ disciple-ship is marked by a cross, God still won’t fix my printer! Isn’t it the problem though we have with many (all?) relationships – that we want people to be and behave as we think they should. So if we make God in our own image and even then he doesn’t ‘measure up’ – what then?
That answer is personally faced at the end. Whether by death or by Jesus’ return, we will face our identity and God’s identity at the same time. The hidden God will be re-vealed but he will still have scars! In that moment his words will be seen for what they are – life giving, liberating, forgiving, blessing, challenging – and his actions (especially those we thought capricious or cruel) were gracious and grounded in love. What we will see finally is that we are not god! But more wonderful will be that God does love us. Always has. And through words, water, bread and wine God’s presence and love are communicated. He is not out to manipulate us or use us. He is present to serve! Now and at the end – and any other (busy) time! Amazing! — GS