We usually invent God. We have a tendency to create our own “Gods” to fit our selfish concept of what life is about. We tend to fabricate a divine being so that we can justify our individual ambitions and world views. If I am usually angry or dissatisfied with life, I create a God that punishes and brings justice. If I am grateful, I create a merciful and forgiving God. If I am materialistic and ambitious, I create a God who provides. If I have little interest in the meaning of life, I create a distant God who does not require much of my attention. Instead of searching God with no prior assumption, we prefer to have a concept of what God should be and then live based on this assumption. We are usually too full of our own interpretations and preconceived ideas of the meaning of life. We try to manipulate God.
In Taoism, the word “wu” refers to emptiness, or not having desires or the state of mind characterized by simplicity, quietude, patience, frugality and restraint. It is an emotional or psychological stance associated with the lack of worldly desire. To desire to have a lot, and to consume as much as possible, creates a lack of space for God. Therefore, we create a God that accommodates to our own selfish approach of a full life, according to our definition of life. But God should define us, not the other way around.
Being empty handed brings out a more accurate experience of God. What do I mean by this? Jesus taught that “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” In other words, erase our pre-conception of what life should be, and fill ourselves with the real meaning of Life and God. I acknowledge this is easier said than done, which is why Jesus also described it as the “narrow path.” David wrote “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1) In the second letter to Corinthians (3:5), Paul teaches that only God makes us competent. What makes us rich is not our materialistic possessions, but the simplicity and humility that only the true God gives.
I recently heard the news that one of my distant aunts is in a comma. She is dying. This kind of news reminds me of the limitations of this life. It makes me wonder even more “what is all of this really about? Why do we live to eventually die at the end?” What am I supposed to think? Why is God unfair? God must have a purpose? If I have expected God to be merciful, I would be disappointed. If I have assumed God to be punitive, then I question why is He punishing us? If I thought of God as distant, it would distant God even more from me. What am I to think about God in difficult situations like this? Can I simply not judge God at all and accept it as it is? If we practice being “poor in spirit” and “emptiness”, I think the answer is yes.
Which kind of God do you believe in? What kind of world view defines your God? Do you dare empty yourself, deny yourself, and allow God to define your life?