Friday, June 02, 2006

How Much Does God Weigh?

In his book God in the Wasteland, David Wells describes the notion of how God is "weightless" in our postmodern society.

"...God is now weightless. I do not mean that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable... Those who assure pollsters of their belief in God's existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment less awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers' sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness."

One way to respond to this is to consider how secularized our society has become, but I was more impressed to consider my daily life, especially in the marketplace. If there's any place where "God rests so inconsequentially so as not to be noticeable", it is in the arena of business. In the typical corporate workplace, the serious mention of God is so rare that it seems unusually out of place to do so. Even when spoken of, there is no gravity to the idea that God exists or that he has a claim on us. In stature, he ranks only a notch higher than a myth.

I wonder how I'm contributing this current state. I believe that this "weightlessness" of God at the workplace exists in large part because as Christians, we speak and act so as to undermine the reality of the immortal, invisible God. Much of this is inadvertant, unwitting and by ommission. Yet, when we speak of God in general, philosophical terms but never in personal terms, we contribute to the weightlessness of God. When we consistenly express enthusiasm about the football game on Sunday but no enthusiasm about the Sunday meeting at church, we contribute to the current dilemma. In times of difficulty, if we express our need for assistance from other co-workers but never openly acknowledge our need for God, we functionally ignore his providence.

I'm pausing to consider what I'm communicating about God everyday. Do I speak of God as though he truly exists? I wonder how we can better speak, work and live in such a manner that the gravity of who God is cannot be ignored. What would that look like?


Tom Yi said...

Thanks Andre for the entry. I would say one key aspect of including God in the workplace is the condition of my heart, soul, and mind as I enter the workplace. We often prepare our hearts for Sunday church meetings, but fail to prepare our hearts as we enter less "God fearing" territories such as the workplace. This act I believe will help keep our attention on God and make proclaiming him in the workplace less and less difficult.

ittai said...

Wow, Andre. Thanks for the thoughts. I feel as though I'm blogging on holy ground here, and am challenged. My mind just went through several mental gymnastics applying what you posted to many areas of my life, and I believe that to be the Holy Spirit. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis' analogy of a child who's contented to play with mudpies in the alley because he can't imagine what's meant by a holiday at the sea. "We are far too easily satisfied". Still, I don't often think of what this says about God himself. His glory is far heavier than I ever give Him credit for... Thanks.

andre said...

Thanks for your comments. I have come to notice how my speech about God is moderated depending on my environment. Describing my Sunday to you - I might say "God was wonderfully at work in my heart to show me how he loves me"... at work,around the "watercooler", when asked about my Sunday, it'll get abbreviated to "I went to church and it was good". I suspect my tale is a common one. And, we wonder why folks aren't drawn to inquire about the hope that is within us...we aren't given them any reason to. :-)

Tom, thanks for reminding us of the need to prepare our hearts. I agree and am taking baby steps to change.

Meng said...

There is a term I like used a lot by the Navigators in Asia - "Insiders". Without going into their use of the word; it just reminds me that I am a believer living my life and working amongst an unbelieving world.

A couple of weeks ago, I had breakfast with DL, an American who lives in Malaysia. (always encouraged by his enthusiaism) Without exposing him by what he does, I can only say he has a heart for Muslim Malays. He said that we often shy away from telling others we are fasting because of the Lord's reproof to the Pharasees. He fasts every Friday and had a great opportunity to witness to his malay colleague as to why he fast. Many questions were asked and He had opportunity to speak about the Kingdom of God!

ittai said...

Wow, Meng, I have dealt with that very issue! I don't tell anyone I'm fasting because I don't want to be Pharisaical. Or worse, I don't want to deal with my mother nagging me about it (she just 'worries' about her kids a little sometimes. Funny - as if I would just waste away ;) Sadly, however, I cannot even say it is my current practice to fast. But it's something I've felt God calling me to again. Thanks for the challenge!