Thoughts on the First Readings – Joe Frankenfield
Exodus 32:7-12, 13-14
I once sat in on a discussion about God with a group of university students. The question was Do you still believe in the God that you believed in five years ago? One student had abandoned the idea of a God who kept score of and punished sins. A younger student said that he now realized that it was by punishing sin that God kept human chaos at bay. A young woman stated that she had realized how God places painful experiences in people’s lives for their own good. Her roommate volunteered that it was exactly such a God that she now rejected in favor of a God who gives us all freedom to make our way through life and react with intelligence, love and courage to whatever life brings.
When the discussion ended, we had learned that though we spoke of one God and prayed to that God together, we held any number of contradictory understandings of who God was and what God did. I was also obvious that it wasn’t theology that held the group together; it was friendship and a hope held in common. Many of our assumptions about God’s ways and even our understanding of his dealings with people were different – even contradictory. Everyone left the room thinking more deeply about their faith and their church than when they entered. One comment just before the break-up was, “I wonder what we’re saying when we say we believe in one God.” Then it was pizza and pop: the ritual meal of college life.
At a time of heated arguments over whether God exists, what God is like and what God is doing; it’s crucial to continually examine our beliefs. They reflect what we think about life. They also reflect our change and growth. Sharing our insights with one another is a wonderful gift – if our friendships are strong enough to accept our differences.