Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Beige God

One of our summer interns, Rachel, wrote this rant on "the Beige God". It made me want to grab a paint can and start painting.

We serve a beige God.

We prefer our God isn’t too exciting—not completely blank and white, but just the appropriate shade of off-white, with not too much brightness or richness in colour. He may have different shades of nice, warm, beige, but still only beige. I mean—look at our sanctuary!

How does that translate into our worship?

Well, we worship our concept of God. If we viewed God as distant, then our building might have plain white walls, and wouldn’t be that interesting or inviting. If we viewed God as diverse, like the people He’s created, then our building would be a hodge podge of different colours and cultures. If we viewed God as exciting and inviting, then our building might be warmly lit, with bright, vibrant accents, giving a focal point to things which will invite us to contemplate our God.

Beige, to me, means we worship a safe God. Beige won’t disturb anyone’s colour scheme too much—you can match it with almost anything—and the colour isn’t going to distract anyone. The different shades of beige might be different parts of God that we bring out in our worship, but it is nonetheless all beige.

Now, putting the actual sanctuary aside, the God we tend to worship is beige in character. He does not disturb our lives too much, and He does not invade our minds too often. He is fine with us just sitting still in the church service, looking like good people, even if our minds are focused on anything but Him. We don’t think God would be red—He wouldn’t get angry, would He? He’s pretty safe, and we don’t need to be in fear of Him, do we? God wouldn’t be blue and vast and powerful like an ocean—allowing disasters to create character in us?

We might hear, on Sunday morning, about a God who disturbs people and pulls them out of their comfort zones, but it is easier to hold on to our comfortable, undisturbing, beige God.

He wouldn’t ask us to do anything we wouldn’t enjoy, would He?

He wouldn’t want us to do anything that might take a lot of effort, would He?

He wouldn’t want us to quite spoiling ourselves by only doing what we want, would He?

He wouldn’t want us to actually forget about ourselves and love people without an agenda, would He?

Of course, He would. But do we actually listen? Are we willing to let go of our beige God?

God is shown through the Bible… and He does get angry…

When people don’t do the good they should do

When people do good, but only because they want something in return

When people see each other as projects instead of people

When people judge instead of seeing one another’s hearts

When people come to church, but don’t come to meet God

When people don’t care for each other, but only look after their own needs

God is also a God who gives gifts—and expects them to be used for Him.

So, when people have a passion for youth, they are to use it.

When people are good administrators, they should know they are needed—and then use their gift to help people who are not.

When people are gifted, we need to recognize it in each other, and help each other find those gifts.

But then—the most important part is that we need to use those gifts. That is part of being the diverse body of Christ. And if God is beige, then our gifts are boring, and not alive, because we only see certain gifts, and don’t recognize others as important.

God is also big and worthy of awe, but He is also close. And he does care for us, and love us, but because of that love, He does not let us be as we are. He asks us to leave ourselves behind. And the life He calls us to good, but is not safe. It is not beige.

The pastors this summer have done a very good job of encouraging us, and taking us out of our comfort zones… were you listening?

“At the centre of the conversion process is the destruction of our own image of God in order to allow God to be God for us: or God who not only is other than what we are, but is also other than what we want God to Be.”

~ Jacques Pasquier

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