The Greeks. I suppose we owe a lot to them, the democracy and all. At least that is what I learned in High school. And now, I am teaching High School and the ancient Greeks as we run through Oedipus or read Antigone, you can’t really understand a piece of literature if you don’t understand the culture (where is the Sunday School unit that teaches that?).
So we talk about the gods, and the way the Greeks interacted with their gods, and I lead the class in shaking my head and poking fun at the silly Greeks and their silly beliefs about Mt. Olympus and its inhabitants. Those crazy Greeks with their crazy ideas about getting and avoiding the attention of the gods, how could anyone believe that? What an antiquated idea!
But the more I teach about Zeus the more I learn about Zeus, and the more I learn about Zeus the more I find him in my heart. As the democracy and literacy were passed down, so were the ideas about who God is.
I always think of theology as something I am not very interested in. I associate theological discussion with naming names and pointing fingers, drawing lines so it is clear who is in and who is out, letting people know that they don’t belong at the table. At its worst I have seen theological discussion boiled down to telling people that they aren’t even Christians. I get physically fidgety when someone wants to talk theology.
While I claim to hate theology, I am desperate to know God. And isn’t that what theology is all about, knowing the ways of my God? In the past I have been afraid that wrong theology will put me at the wrong table in the proverbial religious cafeteria. But I am starting to understand that my theology, what is in my head, has so very much to do with the way my heart responds to my God.
And all to often, it is Zeus in my heart. When I find myself asking God what else He wants me to do, what other hoops He wants me to jump through before He will hear my cries. That isn’t God I am thinking of. When I think I can somehow fly under the radar, that if I don’t draw attention to myself then God won’t notice, that is Zeus in my heart. When I think that God is withholding good things until I finish some near impossible quest, when I am afraid God will change His mind about promises, that isn’t God I am thinking of at all, that is Zeus in my heart.
It is Zeus that forgets and ignores, who is far away. God is with us, and doesn’t withhold good things. When I think that God will punish me with a flat tire, a broken washing machine, a lightning bolt, it is Zeus I am mistaking for my God.
Zeus is fallible. God is love. Perhaps I am more interested in theology than I thought.