Christian Parkour

God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.  Exodus 3:14-15

Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  Matthew 6:9

Why would the way we address God change?

Have you seen anyone play parkour? What a crazy sport! Imagine a monkey, a lizard and Chuck Norris are one creature. That creature runs up walls, flips and jumps from concrete cliffs without dying.

If you die while playing parkour, then you do not win. To stay alive, you must learn to be flexible and roll when you land.

I am trying to land softly and roll. The world I knew, especially the ecclesiastical one, is moving fast and I am having a hard time keeping up. I want to avoid a face plant and learn to start rolling.

I was with some friends who have difficulty with some traditional Christian language used to address God. I find this language comforting and familiar. I want to be in relationship with these folks, but when I insist my understanding of how to address God is “biblical” and dig in my heels and become defensive, I tend to face plant. (You will know you have face planted when everyone goes home angry, and you have once again lost a friend.)

The crux of one such conversation concerns the pronouns we use for God. My friends find the masculine way in which we commonly address our God to be alienating. They would say the masculine names and pronouns are rooted in a patriarchal system and seem to emphasize a “maleness” that is oppressive. I want to roll with this one. I am new to Christian parkour so I expect a few face plants along the way.

I have an offering. A way to address God that is simple and faithful to my understanding of the Bible. This is my awkward attempt to roll and be flexible:

Dearest God, my Loving Parent (Father)

Dearest God, my Perfect Sibling (Son)

Dearest God, my Un-Embodied Comforter (Holy Spirit)

Face plant or roll?

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16 Responses to Christian Parkour

  1. Gloria says:

    I’d go with this:
    Dearest God, my Loving Mother and Father (God is both, At the same time!)
    Dearest God, Jesus Christ, son of God (fact is, he was male on this Earth)
    Dearest God, Holy Spirit, my comforter (I like the idea of using a female pronoun for the Holy Spirit)
    So i don’t know, maybe those gender assignments help balance God out. Perhaps we should do away with all gender assignments as you tried… but the trouble is that God made everything on this planet so darn genderful! Other languages are even worse with every noun arbitrarily having gender articles.. (la tabla, el teléfono)… Anyway, I’m all for finding ways to expand our understanding and become more comfortable with the concept that God is partly female and partly male and also transcendent of how our world is divided. But I’m fine with Jesus being male. I’m fine with God being God and not using a pronoun. I love thinking of the Holy Spirit as female. Just my 2c.

    • karlw says:

      that is a sweet way to imagine it all, some how all together! I suppose that God must feel like me, i don’t really care that much what frankie calls me, just so long as she calls me!

  2. Pam Merten says:

    I have realized over the years that I have been more concerned about what others call God than he is. Since God IS love – I believe the most important thing to “him”, “her” (or “whatever”) is to convey that to everyone. Actually, Jesus has said that to me. “Don’t get hung up on my name.” In my role as a counselor, I’ve counseled myriads of people who have been spiritually abused within Christianity. When they hear, for example, “Jesus”, traumatic memories come up for them because they’ve been abused “in the name of Jesus”. When I’ve been with them, I actually hear the Holy Spirit say, “Shhh, Pam, there’s a reason for this. Let him/her talk.” For those who have been abused by their fathers, to call God “Father” simply won’t happen until and unless they process the trauma and are able to separate God from the abuser: Same goes for the spiritually abused: The Healer needs to show up and let them know that God is not an abuser.

    God is greater than a name; the names of God are all about WHO he/she/it is.

    God is very personal to me. I’m comfortable with talking to “My Father,” “Jesus” “God”, “Holy Spirit”.

    What I do know is that many people do convey messages “In the name of God”. Many even come in the name of “Jesus” – or – “The Father” – or – “The Holy Spirit”. I am very careful to discern whether or not the god they portray – no matter what the name – is coming from the pit of hell (legalism/unlove/”the World”) or from the kingdom of heaven (grace/love). I have often ripped off the masks that parade as light to expose the evil they cover up.

    Pam Merten

    • karlw says:

      yes, it is interesting that saying “right” does not make it right. as with all things Jesus, the heart is what matters and He has an uncanny way of seeing right into it!
      folks have asked me what i want my grandbaby to call me, i say “poppy” but she could say poopy for all i care- i just want her to talk to me! i imagine God might be in the same seat.

  3. Sometimes I resort to Yahweh. The Hebrews had many other names for God, but Yahweh transcends male and femaleness. Even I default to the male pronoun. Hardwiring I guess.

    • karlw says:

      I suppose we should take comfort that our Jewish ancestors so wrestled with this idea that they did not speak the name at all. It seems that Jesus does model for us a path of intimacy by directing calling on the Father/Parent

  4. Mark Tracy says:

    Christ Called God “Abba”, an intimate term for “Father”. He told us to pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven”. Scripture is undeniably clear concerning the names of God. I can think of no admonition or suggestion, or even permission whatsoever in Scripture to give us any reason to address God as “Mother”. I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to fit God into a more comfortable nomenclature simply because we conjure faulty, negative images in our minds when we use the term “Father”. Those mental images—be they from personal negative experiences or due to some societal redefinition of the term—are not God’s fault.

    I certainly understand how some may not want to think of God as their father because they didn’t have one while growing up, or had a bad one while growing up. Imagining our own dad, when we address God brings faulty imagery of God regardless of how good or bad a father he was. No dad is perfect. God is. Learning to understand God as our perfect loving Father is the better way.

    I would suggest reading The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith (particularly the chapter: “God is Trustworthy.”) Maybe it will help.

    • karlw says:

      thanks mark and pam, (not sure how it works, so will double post this) this is why we need these conversations! I suppose all of us must have a mental image or thought, birthed in our imaginations, when we pray. i think that over time that idea changes, as it does when i picture my kids when we talk on the phone. I cannot in one moment conjure all of the “God is..love, trustworthy, holy, enough, sufficient, merciful, just, etc.” but in the moment one is perhaps more relevant than the others.
      doesnt the old testament give many pictures of El… shaddai, ohim, or? i dont think that changes who God is, but how we perceive Him.
      i suppose i have this idea that as long as we wrestle we are better off than being complacent.

  5. Pam Merten says:

    Mark Tracy – . I have studied and appreciated the Scriptures FOR YEARS. I value them immensely. AND I view them as a TOOL rather than having equality with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, I go with God’s leading when it comes to the specifics of life; wherein the Scriptures “generalize”.

  6. Personally, I don’t think I have the right to call God anything other than he calls himself. It might make me feel better to relabel him to benefit my weaknesses or other’s weaknesses whom I may love and be committed to, but it greatly confuses the truth. It also confuses who I’m ultimately committed to. I have enough moments of rejecting him publicly to add to the list politically acceptable new labels. Think I will begin praying to, um, Dear Earth maker and body Creator, Stone of Stumbling… please roll away, and let me come through the Door to see my risen Lord and Redeemer, your Son, Jesus Christ mediating on my behalf in my every day weakness.

  7. Pingback: formation friday: God expanded | kathy escobar.

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