Over the weekend I went to our community theatre’s modern adaptation of the 15th century morality play, Everyman. I’d read the play in my high school drama class, but I’d never seen an actual stage production.
The real reason I went? Former students were in the cast.
It’s a classic play, written in verse. “Everyman” is the main character, representing everyone’s journey through life trying to justify our existence, determining our purpose in living, and ultimately encountering death.
Watching the actor’s depiction of the character of God in the play made me think.
About my own picture of God.
God is portrayed as an older gentleman. A jovial, loving character. A grandpa who cares about you and is available, but can’t do a lot to make a difference in your circumstances.
He isn’t strong. He isn’t powerful. He’s kind, but he just toddles around.
For a long time I think that’s how I saw God. Loving, but not very strong. Not capable of doing very much.
But that doesn’t match the full picture of God I’m coming to know.
In the same way that a picture of God as a task master – an ogre in the sky just waiting to zap me when I do something he doesn’t like – doesn’t match the God I’m coming to know.
Or a God who’s all loving and all powerful, but far too busy and disengaged to really have time for me, personally.
It’s so hard to put those qualities of strength and compassion, omnipotence and vulnerability in the same being. In our culture it’s as if those characteristics are mutually exclusive – that they can’t co-exist. That the same being who can part seas and raise the dead could also stand silently before his accusers, to the point of death. That the ruler of the universe cares about the hair on my head.
But he does.
That takes a strength – and a depth of love – that goes far beyond the kindly old man toddling around patting heads. And looks nothing like the scorekeeper with a bolt of lightning.
I need constant reminders of who God is – and who he isn’t – lest he become who I make him out to be.
And I miss the Father he really wants to be to me.