Reaching the conclusions noted above, I was relieved of the pressure of traditions and instructions. Traditions and instructions helped me in that they built the ship in which I was to put to sea. The discoveries had to be my own. The God of whom I had heard at my mother’s knee, as the phrase goes, had always been shadowy to me; the God who was served by “services” had always seemed remote. A God who should be “my God”, as the psalmists say so often, must, I felt, be found by me myself, through living, searching, suffering, and struggling onward a step or two at a time. “That’s pretty near free-thinking, isn’t it?” a clergyman, to whom I tried to explain myself, once said to me. “No,” I replied; “but it is pretty near thinking free.”
To think freely about God became a first necessity; to think simply a second one. The Universal Father had been almost lost to me behind veil after veil of complexities. The approaches to Him seemed to have been made so roundabout, requiring so many intermediaries. Long before I had dared to think of what I may call emancipation, the “scheme of salvation”, as it was termed, had struck me as an excessively complicated system of machinery, considering the millions upon millions who had need of it. In theory you were told, according to St. Paul, to “come boldly before the throne of the heavenly grace”, but in practice you were expected to do it timidly.
You were expected to do it timidly because the pigeon-holed Caucasian God was represented—unconsciously perhaps—as difficult, ungenial, easily offended. He measured your blindness and weakness by the standard of His own knowledge and almightiness. A puritan God, extremely preoccupied with morals as some people saw them, He was lenient, apparently, to the narrow minded, the bitter of tongue, and the intolerant in heart. He was not generous. He was merciful only when you paid for His mercy in advance. To a not inconsiderable degree, He was the hard Caucasian business man, of whom He was the reflection, only glorified and crowned.
It will be evident, of course, that I am not speaking of “the Father” of the New Testament, nor of the official teaching of any church or theology. To the rank and file of Caucasians “the Father” of the New Testament is very little known, while the official teaching of churches and theologies is so hard to explain that not much of it gets over to the masses of those willing to subscribe to it. I refer only to the impression on the mind of the man in the street; and to the man in the street God, as he understands Him, is neither a very friendly nor a very comprehensible element in life. Instead of mitigating fear.. He adds to it, not in the Biblical sense of “fearing God”, but in that of sheer animal distrust.
PHOTO CREDIT : HANNY NAIBAHO
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