The Relational God

(The following note was sent to a very good friend who, in light of everything that is perceived as going wrong, wonders where God is in all of it. He, a brilliant guy, is struggling with what we all struggle with from time to time — the theodicy questions. This was my response.)

I hope you will allow me this reflection.

Any time anyone enters into a relationship, that person relinquishes power, in fact, that person, if smart, realizes that he or she has no legitimate power over another person. If such phony power is exerted, it is called “abuse” and “domination,” a word embraced by the president.

At best, the only power we have is persuasion. Why, because we are not the other person and we have no right to exert power over that person. Love certainly dictates that we relinquish any false notion of power in relation to the other. In fact, we realize that the opposite is true for a truly loving relationship. We realize that “giving up one’s self for the other” is the way to true life. What wouldn’t you do for your wife? Yeah, I know. We’ve been cooped up for three months and the bonds have been tested. 😇

I believe this is the “relational” way. It is in the marrow of our bones. God is relational; the very nature of God is relational as metaphorically described in the Trinity. If God is relational and God is Love then God knows that God relinquishes power in relation to the “other.” In fact, God is so smart, God knows that exerting such dominating power would destroy any relationship. And so, God is not all-powerful in the Greek sense of omnipotence. God persuades, God is vulnerable, God gets hurt, God cries, God rejoices, God invites, God sacrifices.

Therefore Jesus, the nobody from nowhere who dies a miserable scandalous death as do millions and millions of others to be forgotten in the annals of history. But Jesus wasn’t forgotten. And therefore, every one of those millions upon millions are not forgotten in the heart of God. The disciples experienced the “aliveness” of Jesus and realized that that aliveness came through suffering and dying “in relationship,” in love for others.

Do I believe that ultimately “all shall be well”? Yes, because of the vulnerability and sacrifice of God to reveal that Love is at the heart of all creation and not raw power. Love wins.

After my late, young wife died in a day, I cursed God for not preserving her life. Then, at some point deep into the grieving process, I saw Jesus on the cross and realized that God was with me in my suffering. I didn’t need a “fixer” as much as I wanted one at that moment. I needed a Cosmic Lover.

Sometimes it would be nice to have a “benevolent” dictator to make everything right by decree. We don’t have that. Thank heavens because such a dictator could become malevolent at any moment. We have the “Window” into the heart of God revealing just how much God loves the creation and every one of us. We have Jesus. And now, we are Jesus — the Body of Christ.

Also, I believe we have the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, etc. because there are many gates into the garden, but that’s a discussion for another time.


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