A friend just sent me this – it is both awesome and frightening if we really believe it’s true!
A Parable Concerning God’s Wife and Her Husband
A portion of a meditation delivered by the Rev. Stuart Coles of the Presbyterian Church in Canada at the World Council of Churches meetings at Rochester, N.Y., August 1963.
One of the cardinal sins against the Holy Spirit is the sin of pasteurization or dullness. Another is religionizing. (Religion comes from the same root as “ligament” and “ligature”.) Religion is the inveterate craving of our minds, our values, our ideas of what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for God’s behavior and outlook. Religion is the enterprise of reducing God to a manageable affair.
One of the most difficult things I know of is to study the Bible and to worship the God of the Bible without falling into this double sin of dullness and religionizing. The Bible is, if we can get our religious, heavily smoked glasses off, anything but a dull book, anything but a religious book. And the God of whom it speaks is anything but a well-behaved wraith of man’s devout imaginings. He is altogether alive, altogether unmanageable, altogether uninhibited in His behavior. And the Bible is specifically a book about God’s love affair, His stormy and passionate and heart-breaking marriage or covenant with an oddly matched wife or covenant partner.
The church is God’s wife. He has married Himself to her “for better or for worse”. According to the church’s history in the Bible and in subsequent ages, it is frequently “for the worse.” She suffers from selfishness, from self-righteousness, from stuffiness, from timidity, from the cruelties that spawn out of fear and prejudice.
Most of all, God’s wife suffers from the womanly temptation to want to settle down. She craves a place to shelter and entrench herself, her children, her knick-knacks. Incidentally to all this, she secretly determines to reform her Husband, to domesticate Him, to tie Him down to where she is and where she wants to stay.
“To tie God down” to that which has been, is the essence of religion. Religion is the corruption of the church’s marriage partnership with her Husband.
God cannot be tied down. He is free, He is a missionary, a pioneer, an explorer, a frontiersman, a creator of that which h as not been before. He shakes the status quo. He tears the old times off the world’s calendar, so that every age is a new age, and every day is an adventure into an untrodden future. He is a very turbulent Husband. He keeps moving on, and He keeps calling to His wife to follow Him, and keep a-coming with Him into each new situation.
The church wants to settle down. She wants security. “Organized religion is interested in organized religion.” The church knows in her secret heart how dangerous it is to leave all defenses and all establishments and follow her Lord: a person can get killed going where God goes and doing things the way God does.
Where does God want to go, and what does He want to do? Some religionists act as though all God wanted to do was “go to church”.
Sure He “goes to church”—but just long enough to have a quick, no-foolishness chat with His wife—a briefing session on “what’s cooking”. He pays her very loving, very deeply understanding, husbandly attention. But then, all too soon, He says, “Come on, old girl. Let’s get moving. We’ve got work to do.” And He goes out the door so fast, and in such an unexpected direction, that half the time, “the old girl” just stands there gaping. She tries to keep her skirts down and her housekeeping papers from blowing all over the place in the freeze created by God’s going. This breeze is known as (the presence of) the Holy Spirit. (Holy Wind).