Does God Need Our Help?

This too-strange-to-be-true story from Urban Legends:

ARKANSAS CITY (AP) — A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car’s sun roof during an incident best described as “a mistaken rapture” by dozens of eye witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

“She started screaming “He’s back, He’s back” and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car,” said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. “I was slowing down but she wouldn’t wait till I stopped,” Williams said. She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky,” he went on to say.

“This is the strangest thing I’ve seen since I’ve been on the force,”said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blowup dolls filled with helium which floated up into the air.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who’s been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said “Come back here,” just as the Williams’ car passed him.

Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else.

When asked for comments about the twelve dolls, Jenkins replied “This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen.”

Fortunately, this account, though widely circulated by reputable media distributors, has been proven to be false. I do, however, believe there is a believability to this tale simply because we, as humans in desperation to see something happen, tend to think we need to help God along to execute God’s grand plan. How else could you explain this misguided woman actually jumping out of her car’s sunroof?) Much of the popular theology in circulation supports this theory:

  • If we can send missionaries to all people-groups of the world, then Jesus will return (assumed to be the meaning of the verse, “The gospel will be preached in all the world, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14)
  • When the world sinks the lowest it can possibly go into sin, corruption and decay (spiritual, physical, mental and environmental), the we will see the Kingdom of God established. (Great for those who don’t want to care for creation and prefer the decadent lifestyle of waste and plunder.)
  • When every nation is actively engaged in war against Israel, the Antichrist will be revealed and the tribulation will take place (This, of course, followed by Armageddon and the reign of Jesus on earth).
  • If we do our part, then God will be obligated to bless us. (The basis of the support for most televangelists, revival preachers, and prosperity theologians.)

While we many may see these ideas as common sense (or sound theology?), this whole idea is reminiscent of the scientific study that shows how we naturally see God as being like us, loving who we love and hating what we hate. This same god will follow our guidelines on how he (and this god is most often a “he”) should act and bows to the pressure of his accountability to us, the epitome of his creation. This is evident in the way Christians today view Jesus, as Johnjoe McFadden, on the Richard Dawkins Foundation blog, states quite accurately:

A study led by Lee Ross of Stanford University in California has found that the Jesus of liberal Christians is very different from the one envisaged by conservatives. The researchers asked respondents to imagine what Jesus would have thought about contemporary issues such as taxation, immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion. Perhaps not surprisingly, Christian Republicans imagined a Jesus who tended to be against wealth redistribution, illegal immigrants, abortion and same-sex marriage; whereas the Jesus of Democrat-voting Christians would have had far more liberal opinions. The Bible may claim that God created man in his own image, but the study suggests man creates God in his own image.

So, we naively worship a god who is just like us, only a more perfect version. Who does, in fact, need us because, even though he is infinite in power, limits himself to the capacity of a chameleon-like genie to changes to be however the beholder wishes him to be.

By simply naming God, we ascribe to God a character that we humans ourselves define. Rightly has hymn writer Bernadette Farrell written about “God, beyond all names,” for we could not begin to describe God except in our own mortal–limited–language.

Therefore, let us not assume that God needs our help in any activity. Being God means God has in God’s own self the power and ability to do whatever is to be done.

Rather, count it as a privilege and a grace to join God in the work already begun–God’s mission–of bringing Jesus’ good news to life in our world.

And should God in wisdom choose to catch you up to heaven, kindly let God alone do so–no assistance will be required.

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