During one of my Lectio/Meditations on Phil 2:5, I had the following thoughts which I share with you now.
All Christians have the temptation to play God games. The games are human responses to what we think God is or what we think God thinks. Scriptures are one way to ensure that the words of God come from those living from around the time of Christ. Christ himself never wrote a book. St. John’s Gospel 20:30-31 and again in John 21:24-25 that the whole world would not be able to contain the works Jesus did. The disciples were eyewitnesses to these works. What is written down is for our benefit, that we “…might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing this you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
Adam and Eve were the first to play God games. They knew the rules of the game (don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), played, and lost. (Genesis 3) The rest of us all reside use the same board to play our games. At the core is the wish to be God, which means we are our own center of reality, not God. We probably sin (missing the mark) but don’t even realize we have lost the board game because we have constructed games in our own image and likeness, not God’s.
Here are a few board games that I have caught myself playing, and with which you might identify.
MY GOD CAN BEAT YOUR GOD
When we are self-righteous to a fault, we place ourselves alone as the arbiter of Scripture and the center of reality, thinking that Scripture can never be in error. In fact, we make ourselves our own religion, and of course, everything we say is true, because, after all, we must be correct because of faith. The lack of humility and obedience to what God actually says often prevents us from seeing what is true.
TWO VIEWS OF THE SAME WORDS: I was chatting with some of my colleagues at work, several years back, and they were condemning people who did not hold their view of the Scriptures. They thought everything in Scriptures was absolutely true and must be believed absolutely and obeyed. I asked them if they observed the Jewish prohibitions (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). They said they did not know. Belief trumps any historical ambiguities. The problem with this extreme view is each person determines what is true.
On the other hand, those who hold the Historical Jesus philosophy about Scripture hold that Jesus never existed, or that all Scripture is just the mutterings of deluded followers, not Jesus himself. https://www.indy100.com/article/did-jesus-exist-7489786. With these assumptions, I would put Julius Caesar on par with Jesus Christ. The problem with this extreme view is no one can prove that anyone existed or that the words written down were true.
This is a game whose purpose is to prove that I am wrong. Of course, it presupposes that you are correct. This game is about tossing phrases from Scripture to disarm your opponent and prove them wrong. I don’t play this game, although people try to play it with me.
A few years ago, I had breakfast at Starbucks with a couple of friends of mine. The subject, as it usually does, drifts toward religion. I said I had just come from Eucharistic Adoration for an hour. They told me I was an idolator because only God should be adored. It did not go well that I agreed with them. They had assumptions in their mind that I could never intellectually or emotionally answer to their satisfaction. They told me that the Real Presence belief was not found in Scriptures. When I quoted Matthew 26:26-29, to play the game correctly, they told me my interpretation was just my own belief and I was entitled to my opinion. They held different opinions. I said that sounded like relativism to me (each person is their own god and their own church). I quoted the response that St. Thomas Aquinas gave to those who don’t believe in the Real Presence. To those with faith, no answer is necessary, to those without faith, no answer is possible. There was no answer back from them, other than that is your opinion. I told them that indeed it was my opinion and the opinions of multitudes for the past twenty centuries. Unfortunately, we stopped having breakfast together.
THE GOD OF THE GOLF COURSE
I don’t play golf, but one of my relatives said that he can get as much from playing nine holes as he does going to the Eucharist on Sunday morning. I asked him if he was equating the two. He told me that it didn’t matter. He did not believe in the Real Presence but felt the presence of God when he played golf on Sunday morning.
Read Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule to keep from self-idolatry. As one who aspires to be a Lay Cistercian, I have to keep before me the mind of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5) each and every day. Every day is a new chance to love God with all my heart and mind and strength and my neighbor as myself. Fail though I do, I seek to finish the race and gain my reward.
This is a game that people who live in two universes (physical and mental) play when speaking of the absence of God. In this game, they have their hands over their eyes so they can’t see what is real, but they keep their fingers spread apart so they can actually see how to navigate the currents of life without drowning.
The problem with participants in this game is one of assumptions. Although everyone tried to come up with one workable theory of all that is, they still continue to look at only the physical and mental universes while neglecting the spiritual one.
What games do you play as God?
That in all things, God is glorified. –St. Benedict