Friday, September 19, 2008

Offering God Your Opinion

Has it ever crossed your mind that God might be interested in your opinion?

God said to Noah, I regret creating humanity; I’m going to destroy what I’ve made, and start over, with you. (Genesis 6)
Noah doesn’t express an opinion on this, and builds an ark as instructed.

God said to Abraham, I’m going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18)
Abraham expresses an opinion.
What is going on here? Is God merely indulging Abraham, in order to show him that there are not even 10 righteous people in the two cities?
Or is God willing to amend his plans in the light of the opinion of his friend? Is God willing to take counsel from a man?

God said to Moses, I regret bringing these people out of Egypt; I’m going to destroy them. (Exodus 32)
Moses expresses an opinion.
God, if you do that, your actions will be misinterpreted by your enemies, and they will misrepresent you.
“And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people” (Exodus 32:14)

Has it ever crossed your mind that God might be interested in your opinion?

That he doesn’t just want you to find out his opinion, so that you can be obedient. Don’t misunderstand me: obedience is an appropriate response to God’s leading. But, just perhaps, God is interested in working with our opinions too. Perhaps, sometimes God lets us take the lead. Because Jesus says to his disciples, I no longer call you servants, but friends. Friends, who, unlike servants, are invited into the decision-making process. Friends, whose own decisions Jesus is willing to endorse: doesn’t “what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” sound like he is prepared to back his friends? Perhaps God doesn’t merely allow us to take a lead from time to time; it is in fact the very thing he wants of us?

[Okay, so this is an Anglican aside, but: Does the Church have the authority to appoint women bishops? Yes.]

The tradition I come from is often guilty of living according to the Jonah Principle: that the indication that something is God’s will rather than my will is that I really don’t want to do it. Now, Jonah needed his will to be conformed towards God’s, as we all do. But the Jonah Principle is a pretty abusive one – especially if we believe that we are a new creation, being transformed, having our minds renewed…

I wonder what would have happened if Noah had spoken up...

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