Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wish Fulfillment

I recently read an opinion that wish fulfillment is a process of projecting onto someone our image of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, or the like. From that I realized that some people act out of wishes but they project their own wishes and dreams onto Jesus.

Someone once said "God created man in his own image - and man returned the favour". I did a web search and found that "someone" might be Blaise Pascal, Voltaire, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, or a random philosopher or theologian. I'm not sure exactly who was the author, though if it was someone French, I would almost guess that there would be a French quote with the mention of it on the various websites. We do some crazy things when it comes to wish fulfillment. One example is that we take good quotes and ascribe them to someone we feel was historically "clever". Mark Twain gets a lot of credit for things he never said, exactly for that reason, as I expect the other folks in the list also do. I expect we'll properly attribute stuff only when we get to heaven.

Those who have spent much time talking to me, probably have heard the quote before, and know my next allusion will be to J.B. Phillips 1952 book "You're God is Too Small". Written by the same man who actually produced the Phillips Translation of the New Testament, it is an engaging and thought provoking book talking about how we re-create God in our image.

I'm sure the general idea is available to most of us. We are too small and God is too big. Whenever we try to imagine what God is like, we distort his image into one we are more comfortable with, whether emotionally, intellectually, or philosphically. Man made gods, whether they are made of stone, wood, or the noosphere, just are more convenient.

Its far easier to serve and believe in someone we can relate to, and much easier to not face ourselves by having a god that we can predict, figure out and most importantly, control.
As an echo of my previous blogs , I just have to ask, if God fits into this very small mould we make for him, is this someone we really can trust and believe? The Truth is generally stuff we can't quite handle. It's far easier to wish that we have found the truth than it is to face what truth is revealed. I think the Strict Interpreters (Pharasees/Perushin/Hakamim) , Free/Liberal Interpreters (Saducees), and Ascetic Interpreters (Essenes) would have all loved a Jesus who fit into their own box.

It's great, but it isn't reality. Reality is a place with sharp edges and corners, where kids (metaphorically or not) can fall and skin their knees. It is also a place where drug addiction, exploitation, gossip, self-righteousness and various other snares of the soul can trap people, sometimes for a very long time. We live in a Post-Fall world where dog-eat-dog leaves many people who can't understand Jesus-Saves.

It is a harsh world that we got after the Fall. The world where "Survival of the Fittest" holds, isn't really a world where the value of the individual is really understood. And no matter how much we wish it were better, this doesn't change that life with thorns and by the "sweat of your brow" really is what we have, and wishing doesn't make it better. A significant fact about this is that God agrees with us, doesn't like it any better than we do.

There are many theological thoughts about this, usually talking about the value of faith, and the sovereignty of God, about the patience of God, and the right of Free Will. Some people want to say that God is powerless, while others point out that he is keeping a promise to let us grow. Some discuss about Bad Things happening to Good People, and others point out that "our righteousness is like filthy rags". The intricacy of all these ideas is why Theology is known as the queen of the sciences. Theology, as a science, essentially depends upon careful observation, logical arguments, and exacting definitions. The lesser sciences, like physics and chemistry, get to include the principles of repeatability and falsifiability.

The bottom line for accountants is the place where all the credits and debits add up to a single concluding line. Sometimes Christians seem to only focus on the credits but the debits exist too. Life is rough, and as Rich Mullin's song says "don't make sense at all". He follows this with the prayer "to Hold Me, Jesus". Pam Thum has a song which has the same message "Sometimes living takes the life out of you", followed by the phrase "Life is Hard, but God is Good". Which of course, reminds us about the simple gospel message, that God loves us, and gives us a way out through his Salvation.

So my bottom line is:

Jesus Saves

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