In honor of George Washington, can we talk about truth?
I ask because the issue arose while commiserating recently with a friend. She was bewildered and hurt by her husband’s suddenly pubescent behavior. At 40, he had become obsessed with the gym, his brand new muscles, rap artists and flirtatious young women who thought he was buff.
“Is it a mid-life crisis?” she wondered.
The Loud Mouth also wondered what was the underlying truth. I didn’t doubt that my friend’s husband was going through a crisis. Actually, I found it rather ironic that his intolerance over her failure to wilt into a dead faint whenever he stepped out of the shower or entered a room actually rendered him rather unattractive, except to someone who valued superficiality.
This poor man truly had created a crisis. I simply wasn’t sure it had anything to do with mid-life.
Human Life Can Be Calculated
Actors on Earth’s theater who identify themselves as their characters—as humans—have a beginning, a middle and an end. For these fine folks, everything and everyone is physical. Nothing exists unless they can see, feel, taste, touch or hear it.
Most of them believe that they were made in God’s image. But what is that image? It changes from one culture or country to another. Always has. As Greek philosopher, theologian and religious critic, Xenophanes (c.570 – c.475 BC), once wrote:
“Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black and Thracians that theirs have blue eyes and red hair….If cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the work that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves.”
Simply put: Those who believe that humans are merely physical bodies typically worship a god who looks human, complete with body, gender and a defined space in which to live. Their anthropomorphic god behaves in ways that are more characteristic of humans, rather than divine (2 Kings 1:10):
- He is volatile, violent and vindictive (Ez. 25:17);
- He changes His mind (Gen. 8:21);
- He solves problems by slaughtering or sadistically torturing His children to death—one at a time (Mark 15:25) or all at once (Gen. 6:17);
- He is jealous (Ex. 34:14);
- He demands obedience and rewards it with physical bounty (2 Cor. 7:15);
- He brutally punishes disobedience forever and ever (2 Peter 2:4);
- For all of this and more, they say, he is “worthy to be praised” (Ps. 18:3).
The Divine on a Calculator
There are others who also believe that they were made in the image of God, but they perceive God to be invisible, invincible and immortal spirit (John 4:24). They believe God is everywhere, rather than somewhere.
They also believe that God is Love (1 John 4:8), and embrace Paul’s definition of love captured in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: Love is patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud. Love does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always, trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and never fails.
For these believers, anything that claims to be said by God, written by God or done by God, but does not fit within Paul’s definition of Love, mocks and demonizes God.
As humans, we create crises, not because of our age or any fear of aging. Generally, it’s because we choose to worship our mortal body costumes. We’ve made them our only reality. We’ve diminished ourselves to a calculable beginning, middle and end. But think about it:
- If we are made in God’s image, are we spirit or is God a man?
- If God is spirit, as John claims, how do we calculate God’s beginning, mid-life and ending?
- If we are spirit, how do we calculate our own beginning, mid-life and ending?
We choose how we will perceive ourselves and how we will perceive our God. We can be, think and act as if we’re merely humans marching toward death, even on the way to the gym. We also have the option of traversing this world as divinely as humanly possible.
Our outcomes—our joys, our pains and our suffering—reflect our truth. For better or worse.