My mother provides me with a mountain of anecdotes about life, Christianity and growing up. As she ages gracefully, many of her idiosyncrasies seem to become more exaggerated (or maybe I just notice them more).
One such idea (which, it seems, is not at all unique to my mum) is the idea that God is so intimately concerned with every little incident in her life, even to the point of making sure she never has to walk any great distance into the supermarket because, “God always finds me a parking spot.”
God did that? For you?
Wow! You must be on God’s favourites list. I am impressed!
Children are dying of starvation in Ethiopia yet, somehow, God has decided your request for a shorter walk is more important than hearing their cries for enough food to keep them alive another day?
People are desperate for clean water after a typhoon, but what the Almighty really wants (even more than to quench the thirst of millions of God’s children) is to make sure your gas-guzzler finds easy access at the Mall?
(This is even funnier when I see how she now has a ‘Disabled’ sticker on her vehicle which allows her to park right next to the door. Obviously the faith-thing didn’t work as often as she would have liked.)
But I believe this is only a symptom of our creation of an individualistic faith in which God’s love and grace, God’s salvation, God’s blessing, God’s interest, God’s promises and God’s devotion is focused on me, my and mine.
Perhaps this is also a symptom of a consumerist mentality that sees God as another commodity or service to be used for our own purposes and desires. We have truly fashioned a God who not only supplies all our needs, but our wants as well.
Regardless of what the underlying problem is, seeing God as a magical genie who is waiting for your prayer so blessings may be released in your direction is exclusivist and self-centered at its core.
We speak of community but think only of what we want. We talk together-speak but, in the end, we’re out for our own parking space–too bad for you if you were praying for one as well because I got a hold of God’s ear first!
And bad luck for you if you’re famished, homeless and alone on the streets of Addis Ababa because (funny how this happens!) my easy life as I stroll into Mega Mall to spend what I have so deservedly earned is so much more important to God than your shelter, food and sense of belonging.
(* Thanks to my pub group whose banter provided, once again, inspiration for a post.)