Have you ever done a trust fall? It’s a team building exercise where one person stands on a chair, table, or a higher platform with their back to the rest of the group. The rest team then forms two lines standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the two lines facing each other. The idea is to have the elevated person fall straight backward between the two lines and into the waiting arms of their teammates. (Still not clear? Check this out.)
If the falling person trusts the team and goes straight backward with their body like a board and parallel to the ground, and the team members stand there and try to take their portion of catch, the weight of the falling person distributes easily across the group so no one person bears too great a load.
It’s a simple exercise for those doing the catching. It can be terrifying for the person who’s falling.
Moving beyond hating God through blame, is like an ongoing trust fall with God. Thus, falling into God.
Hating Through Blame
For me, blaming God was rooted in a deep sense of isolation. I’ve met other people who blame God for a condition they were born with. Still more, blame God because of something someone else did to them. And of course, I think we all know someone who blames God for the loss of a loved one. Whatever the source, be it something big or small, in time, enough blame turns to hate.
I used to argue that this kind of blame was an act of faith, because it assumes God is there and could do something but chooses not to. But according to that perspective, the reality remains that God could have done something. This means God must be absent, distracted, cruel, or ambivalent. None of that resonates with the God revealed in Jesus.
The problem is in the perspective. What this entire perspective depends on is the three-tiered cosmology. It’s a view where God is above in a perfect heaven, there’s a place of punishment below, and humanity lives on earth in the middle. Essentially you have God as the grand chessmaster over everything. So, if something bad happens, the buck stops with God.
Despite how much you hear this view espoused in Christian churches, I find it to be completely inconsistent with the depiction of God in the Bible.
Where’s God in the Bible?
So where did our three-tiered cosmology come from? I would argue it’s an adaptation from other ancient religions. It’s something we read into and find in the Bible rather than being something that’s there on its own.
In the Bible, all of creation is described as the heavens and the earth. The Bible also talks distinctly about heaven, as in the Kingdom of Heaven. While the heavens and the earth are geographically based, the Kingdom of Heaven is activity based. It’s about the rule and reign of God. The Kingdom is any place where things operate according to God’s design. In the Kingdom, the operating system is love. (For more on this, George Ladd’s, The Gospel of the Kingdom, is a great read.)
With this in mind, the story of the Bible isn’t about going to heaven when you die, rather, it’s the story of God inviting, inspiring, and creating the Kingdom here on earth. From Genesis, when God plants a garden, to Revelation, with the garden in a city on the new earth, God is about manifesting divine love in the hear and now. The entire biblical story is about God seeking to be with us. Eternity is essentially Christmas.
Notice how this paints a dramatically different picture of God’s location. Rather than being an old man in the sky, God is everywhere. To co-opt and reapply a line from Martin Luther, God is in, with, and under all things. The divine is dimensionally beyond our experience and yet, constantly in the midst of it.
What’s God Doing?
This shift doesn’t just transforms where we understand God’s location, it also transforms how we see God’s activity. God isn’t looking down answering the prayers of the faithful and smiting those who sin. Rather God is actively working in our midst to bring about something new, beautiful, and shaped by love. God is working to counter the “bad guy” of twisted and selfish human hearts (including our own).
In other words, God sees your story … the friends and the enemies, promises kept and the betrayals, acts of kindness as well as the abuse, times of generosity and moments of greed. Moreover, God rejoices in the beauty, weeps in the sadness, laughs in the comedy, and hurts in the pain. In all of it, God is there and fully in tune with the human experience. Moreover, God actively works to bring something good from every ill. God is constantly seeking to bring the Kingdom into our midst.
This doesn’t mean God takes something horrible and calls it good. Rather, God will use something evil and work to bring something good from it. God doesn’t justify evil … God redeems it. Nowhere is this more clear than the cross (or this) and empty tomb.
Falling Into God
That brings us back to the trust fall. When you’re standing in that elevated place, in order to fall backwards, you need to trust the people behind you. You need to believe that, even through you can’t see them, they are there and working for your good.
So often, when it comes to the things where we blame God, falling isn’t a choice. We’re there, drifting through space, accelerating towards an unknown future. But in that space we often don’t choose, we have a choice. We can blame God that we’re there, or we can trust that, as terrifying as the experience of falling can be, God is there and will ultimately catch us.
The thrill-seeker in me can’t help but think that, in time, I’ll come to enjoy the rush of falling because I’m living in the eager expectation of God’s redemption. I wonder what love will manifest this time!
That’s my dream as I seek to live life falling into God.