Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Is God Our Errand Boy?

"God helps them that help themselves." (Benjamin Franklin)

"Help thyself, heaven will help thee." (LaFontaine)

"Heaven never helps the men who will not act." (Sophocles)

"Help thyself and God will help thee." (George Herbert)

"God loves to help him who strives to help himself." (Aeschylus)

"Prayer indeed is good, but while calling on the gods a man should himself lend a hand." (Hippocrates)

"Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid." (Euripides)

"He who does not work shall not eat." (Paul)

"Work as if it all depends on you and pray as if it all depends on God." (My father -- and others.)

This principle has been presented by many wise people through the ages, from Aeschylus in 500 B.C. to my own father who raised a family through the depression. This same principle is also presented over and over in the pages of Scripture by example and illustration. God blessed people, not as they were sitting still waiting for God to act, but as they were taking action. As they assumed responsibility, God assisted them. As they reached out to help others, God aided their efforts. In my life, I have seen this principle in action.

How many Christians go to church on Sunday morning and hear of a family who has fallen upon hard times and "needs our prayers"? We "raise them up to the Lord" in prayer -- then go out and shop for a new car that afternoon. "No pain, no gain"? Of course not -- because God will give the gain and we will feel no pain.

Sadly, how many Christians feel they are to "Pray and trust the doctors" when their own child is diagnosed with a deadly disease? I have a grandson with leukemia whose odds of survival would be less today if we had done this. The treatment planned by my grandson's doctors would have been inadequate and possibly catastrophic. My daughter's active participation through self-study and networking saved her son's life. Her prayer to God was that her son would be healed. We believe her prayer was answered, partly because she put feet to her prayers.

The common attitude of "Prayer conquers all - (and lets us off the hook)" irks me so much I find it hard to return to the church I grew up in (Southern Baptist). It's the religion of the lazy. It's the religion of the selfish. It is the religion of man.

Unfortunately many Christians treat God as if He's a golem -- someone or some thing they can send out to do their work and fight their fights. I don't believe God works that way. We are God's arms, eyes, feet and hands. He expects us to join in the fights, shed some of our own blood and make our own sacrifices. He is not our errand boy.

Go Golem Go!

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Whether we want to be or not -- we are conformists. If we were not, we would most likely be in jail or crucified.

Depending upon where we are in human society (both horizontally and vertically) we are allowed a certain amount of slack to be a "rebel" -- but the limits are pretty well established.

No one wants to think he or she has been programmed to conform to those limits -- but the fact is, we all have -- by the combination of our genetics and our learned behavior. It is further reinforced throughout our lives by society's laws and peer pressure.

I'm sorry if this sounds depressing -- because it shouldn't. Doing good for others, worshipping our Creator, and taking our grandsons fishing are well within what is allowed -- at least for now -- in America.

We all take a few swipes at windmills, but in the end we vary not much more from each other than do two blades of grass. As Emerson said, "To believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men - that is genius". Some may think it a curse, but it's really not. It's a blessing. Our Creator knew what He was doing.


Some believe that racism is learned behavior. Not exactly.

Racism and other forms of tribal behavior are evolved. Man has been a tribal animal for a long time. Basic human social drives developed instinctively long before they developed intellectually -- and were vital to our survival as a specie.

Humans are very territorial and this manifests itself today in many forms, including racism and nationalism -- even in whom we let into our treehouse when kids. It is reflected in our religions and in our neighborhood associations. It can be easily witnessed at any school playground. Such tribal behavior assigns that which is "different" to being a threat by default.

Overcoming this selfish, but natural instinct is what requires learned behavior. Unfortunately, it is instead often reinforced by the "tribe" we find ourselves born into. It would appear that we are becoming more civilized and our learned behavior is improving, but in reality our so-called civilized behavior is but a thin film floating on a deep ocean -- of an animal's instincts and social evolution.

We only have to pick up a newspaper to see how the "natural man" as Paul called it, is still ready and apparently eager to kill, maim and torture the "not-us" members of other tribes.