God Has Been Indicted
Photo by KATERINA BOLOVTSOVA
In 2007, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit against God, accusing the Almighty of “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues. Lawsuit was dismissed. God doesn’t have a legal address, the presiding judges argued, so he can’t be summoned to appear in court. The atmosphere feels like the courtroom scene in Miracle on 34th Street as the case is made that Santa Claus is not really Santa.
Frivolous lawsuit! Ours is the most litigious culture in history. American sue one another on the most slender of speculations. Perhaps no one recognizes what’s going on in Exodus when Israel sues God for not providing them water to drink.
Trash talking is gaining momentum in our time. God has been convicted without a fair trial. After all, where would you find a jury of God’s peers? The people doing the most damage to God’s reputation make a truly odd couple: preachers on the one hand, and an assortment of secular atheists on the other are bludgeoning God to death on the witness stand. But then again, we should remember that humanity is experienced and skilled at putting God on trial, securing a guilty verdict of traitor, and nailing God to a cross.
It’s the preachers in this alliance that sicken me the most. Preachers say the darnedest things. Why do so many preachers speak with such certainty about matters they know almost nothing? I have concluded that the reticence of Scripture, the refusal of Scripture to tell us what we think we need to know for sure, drives us crazy. I sometimes think that preachers pronounce doom and gloom as a rage against the silences of Scripture.
I would be careful before I started accusing God of not being a good enough God. It’s not like we are kicking the tires on a used car and trying to decide if it came from the floods in Houston or Florida. We are talking about Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, ruler of the universe, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Somebody needs to stand up to these trash talkers and say, “Don’t talk about God like that. I’m a member of the immediate family.”
And to think this all started with some murmuring from God’s people way back in Egypt (Exodus 16:2-15). It started with one complaint: There’s no water to drink. One murmur led to another and to another until it sounded like a swarm of murmurers all angry and filled with accusations. When the official complaint of the lawsuit is filed, it reads: “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us with thirst?” Murmuring is a nasty word that sounds like what it means. Like sloth. Onomatopoeia.
What happens? God says, “You want a trial? Fine, you will have a trial. Meet me at the cleft of the rock at Horeb.” Isn’t it refreshing to see God respond to the lawsuit by his own people with a sort of playfulness? Instead of anger, God shows up for court and provides water. Water from a rock – how’s that for an answer to your lawsuit? By the time the psalmists get around to praising God, there’s honey coming from the rock. By the time of the God, Jesus is the Rock.
freerepublic.com (Cleft of Rock)God shows up at God’s own trial, of God’s own free will, because no one can make God do anything God doesn’t want to do. I think it takes a lot of gall to accuse God of not being a good enough God. God gives manna and we complain. God gives quail. And we complain. God gives freedom and we complain. Well, no one has more gall than Americans. We are a “gall-awful people”. God shows up knowing he is accused of not being a good enough God! And guess what? God is not guilty of neglect. “Has the jury reached a verdict?”” Yes, your honor.” “What say ye?” “We the jury find the defendant not guilty.” Did you hear? God is not guilty. Spread the word: God is not guilty.