Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on using the generic term "God"

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In my endless pursuit of pondering about how to be effective in communicating the message, I've realized that when I speak about God [using the generic term God], many people's eyes sort of glaze over. Not like an actual glazed doughnut, but more like the person who is on the 117th time watching a Scrubs episode. It's made me realize that having a conversation about God [using the generic name God] is rather boring. [Hear me out on this.]

Perhaps its just me, or 21st century culture, but God [using the generic name God] doesn't have much street cred. I mean I work with students, and while I'm teaching to students I see a glaze come over their eyes when I begin to talk about God [using the generic name God]. Yet I can't fault them, cause I (let's be honest) you do too. I mean God [using the generic term God] isn't really that interesting.

Honestly, I think that makes perfect sense. First of all, when we talk about God [using the generic name God], which God are we really talking about; we do live in a society with many views about God. God [using the term God], is a very open ended and very generic way to talk about the divine. When I talk about God, any old religion could assume that I'm referring to their god-figure. (This is where we often confuse the whole conversation between Islam and Christianity.)

I guess I've realized that I live in a world where everybody has a take on God. Its not like we live in a world of polytheists (people with multiple Gods) and we're revealing to the world there is one God. We're living in a world of people who either believe in 1 God or are ok with "not knowing and not caring." To talk about God just ends up in sounding like "blah, blah, blah, blah." God is too mainstream, too undefined, too generic to actually be interesting to listen to.

This, I think, is not as big a problem for us as Christians as it may appear, because just speaking about God is not really how it worked in the Bible. God [using the generic term God] actually has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus. As Christians when we refer to God [using the generic term God], should spend most of our time talking about Jesus. [I mean after all we're called Christians not Godians.]

If the term God is generic, able to be used by anybody referring to multiple different things, perhaps speaking about Jesus would be better. While the name Jesus has actually become a mainstream, generic name at least it is referring to someone and something specific. The only thing is that Jesus has a story. Jesus actually said something. Jesus challenges us to think differently, he creates tension. Jesus causes us to rethink, revalue, & re-prioritize our lives.

We can talk about God [using the generic term God], and not really commit to something. We can talk about God [using the generic term God], and not challenge ourselves to see the world differently. We can use the name God [using the generic term God], and not offend anybody around us. God[using the generic term God] is safe.

So I guess, perhaps we need to stop talking about God [using the generic term God], and begin talking about Jesus. Maybe that's the first step in helping people remove the glaze from their eyes.

What do you think?