Defining God

. . . for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as God is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

When the world that sustains my life and dreams disappoints me, I reach back for words that shock my senses and wake me from my prejudice and complacency. It is easy to go along with life and just hope things will get better, or to simply hide from the world and its problems wishing all will be well or that problems will disappear.

Many of the world’s problems are caused by humanity, or inhumanity if you will. The way we live- in chaos or community- is often derived from the way we see others. It is also a product of our definition of God.

God loves me and my family, but not that family. God loves America, but not other nations. God loves people of my color, but not others. God loves people of my faith, but not others.

When I was in the 8th grade at West Woods School in Bristol, Connecticut, some of my classmates thought it would be cool to leave notes for our history teacher, Mr. Jackson. The notes attacked him and his family because of the color of their skin. Mr. Jackson was a descendant of slaves who grew up in the Jim Crow South. He told us of the lynching of his uncle when he was a boy. He shared his dreams for more freedom for his family to travel and to be a part of the American dream.

My classmates angered and disappointed me, and I told Mr. Jackson that I hoped God would punish them for the ugly notes they sent to him.

He told me that I might want to pray, and love those that I was angry with, that I would have to live with them in many places during my life. I asked him how he responded to reading the notes from students in his school. He said, “Well, I am shocked, mortified, and somewhat dismayed.”

His words for times of hurt and healing.

In church the next Sunday, my family sat with Mr. Jackson and his family. And the words of Luke 6:36 were read that day. I was shocked, mortified, and somewhat dismayed when I heard that God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. I thought of my classmates. I thought of myself.

I needed a new definition of God.

Rev. Rich Kirschner is a retired minister and member of Naples UCC since 2017. He is graciously leading New Chapters Men’s Spirituality Group, which meets every on Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. via Zoom. If you are interested in attending, be sure to check the Wednesday e-blast for the Zoom link.

Prayer Focus:
For a clean heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
That I may reflect your will in my life
And walk in your ways.