Here’s a clip of the first single off Born and Raised, called “Shadow Days.” I’m excited to share the first bit of sound from the album… Been looking forward to a post like this since October 14, 2010, the first day I started writing this group of songs. Enjoy.
I don’t mean this in an offensive way, more as an amused observation, but God sure seems very arrogant doesn’t he? (Ricky Linn)
Don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I thought I’d take a crack at this. I know you meant no offense, but I thought I’d just offer a response regardless. I’m compulsive.
My answer is of course, no. The God I believe in is not arrogant at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The God I believe in is most often described as compassionate, and the word in the original Greek of the new testament has the connotation of “wombish-ness”. Which means the word also assigns a very maternal aspect to God.
The God I believe in, loved us so much in our humanity, that God became human in the person Jesus of Nazareth, to bridge whatever gap might have existed between God and human beings. And not only did God take on human flesh and bone in a human life, before Jesus walks around Galilee and all of Israel healing and teaching a life of humility, forgiveness, and unconditional love, he first goes to be baptized by a man John who lived an extreme and austere life in the wilderness proclaiming the coming of Jesus in the world. When Jesus shows up in the river Jordan to be baptized, John is caught entirely off guard. Jesus is in fact baptized before he begins his public ministry. Baptism at this moment in Israel’s history meant accepting the fault for the mistreatment of the poor and vulnerable of society, failing to follow the Religious rites and rituals of the time, and determining a new course of life purified and humbly repentant of these wrongs and injustices. It seems illogical for Jesus, therefore, to need baptism for any such thing. But he insists nonetheless, and in so doing he takes on responsibility for all of humanity’s wrongdoing, and in an expression of total solidarity with the human condition, wipes away any last-remaining division himself and all of humanity. He symbolically claims “I am one with you.” Arrogance in fact has no place with God. It is quite the opposite. And in the Catholic-Christian tradition, this same man will also carry the sins of the world on his back to die as a common criminal by crucifixion on a cross. Devoted to love and salvation to the very end. So much so that as the guards and leaders who have persecuted him to his death, he whispers as he hangs dying “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” DANG. Mercy at its most loving.
And if that is not enough, I think the best and most simple answer I can provide is from a simple story Jesus shared himself. The parable of the prodigal son. I’ll paraphrase. A man has two sons. The youngest decides he wants his share of his inheritance, before his Father has even passed. (In Israel this would have been as good as saying “Dad, you’re better off dead. Let me have my share of the estate and be gone.”) Totally cutting ties with his family, he takes his share and leaves for another land. He squanders all of his share of inheritance on gambling, debauchery, and prostitutes. Then in the midst of his misery and sleeping and feeding with pigs, he realizes his wrong and decides to return home and beg forgiveness, hoping at least to be hired as a servant to his Father’s estate again. Anything would be better than where he’s ended up. So the younger son manages to return home. “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced and kissed him.” So not only was he welcomed home, he couldn’t even reach the doorstep before his father ran out to meet him and embrace his return. He demands a feast and a celebration for the return of his youngest son. The elder son, however, who had remained faithful and working all these years, naturally throws a fit in response to this kind of treatment for the ungrateful younger son. In his arrogance and righteousness, it just doesn’t make sense. The father replies “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” (Luke 15:11-32)
If this story is meant to communicate anything about God, its about the richness of compassion and endless mercy. The father, who in this small parable represents God, waits anxiously on the doorstep for his child to return home. And after that kind of rejection, he greets him with a celebration of the highest kind.
So no, I don’t think arrogance has any place in conversation about God. I can only talk about the God I believe in and have studied in Theology, pertaining to the Christian tradition. But regardless, I think Jesus’ life and example are enough to reflect the absolute humility and grace that is always offered and extended, without counting the cost.