|Ordinarily we have many goals in our lives
that are devoted solely to human vanity and might be best termed “ people goals.” They are perfectly normal for us as people
but these “people goals” are
generally of very little interest to God. Now it is very true that
people often want their vanity goals to be God’s goals but this can only be carried so far. God is always
interested in us, but some of the things we
are obsessed with are not on a level worthy of His prolonged attention.
Let us say a mother or father reads nursery rhymes to their little children, who think Mother Goose the best literature available. Truly, it may be some of the best literature available considering the age the children are and the minds they have. Their immature choices show a certain shallowness that is understandable but it is certainly not profound literature. As they age we hope the children will grow into more adult tastes and choices. We hope they will one day exchange Mother Goose for Tolstoy, the Bible, Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. In other words we would like them to grow up in their taste and move to a higher level of thought. In the same way God loves us because we are His children, but He also is aware of the questionable level our immature and mortal tastes and goals are on. And, like children, the low level of what we are praying for.
I have found that. many people who pray are upset with God because He does not grant them what they want. What they want may be immature, tasteless and childish, but they become angry with God, as children do, because they can not get many of the toys they want. If you look at their petitions to God which are on the level of letters to Santa Claus, you find their idea of God is a Santa Claus and they are angry with God for not delivering as Santa Claus is supposed to do.
Now God is not a Santa Claus out to deliver shallow “people goals” just as Santa Claus is expected to deliver children’s goals. The result is a lot of bitterness from people who just don’t understand that God is not primarily interested in “toy” delivery. He expects us to be more mature in our thinking.
Look around at what people want. One primary thing they want is to be rich. If possible they want to be richer than others. That is a very common “people goal,” but God is just not too concerned with it. God is more concerned with what we are than how much we have. Now I do not think God is against your being rich but he is not concerned first of all with your being rich. Every day I find a new book by a false or ignorant and mistaken preacher how God is there to help you get your people goals. God is seen as a sacred milk cow while prayer techniques are shown as a different ways to manipulate the cow to give more and better.
It is amazing how many people are praying for a new car. This is a prime time “people goal.” We have billions of people who are literally starving in this world. We have billions of people who are spiritually and morally ignorant in this world. We have billions of people who are mentally ill and physically sick on this planet. We have a world threatened with possible extinction. Millions of mean people exist to make the world a tragedy. Millions of spiritually ugly persons exist to make the world a black comedy. Many countries literally hate each other. Every day I meet another wealthy dysfunctional and sickening family. If in this world, the thing you are primarily praying for is a “muscle car for sex appeal” or a Cadillac, you are small and selfish in your concept of God. I suggest for your considering that you also have a soul the size of a gnat.
The amount you have is a “people goal.” What you are is a spiritual goal. What your occupation is to help raise your social status is a people goal. What you do to help others is a spiritual goal. A spiritual goal is to have character, which means to be more spiritual and noble ( on a higher level) in choice. The immature “people goal” is to avoid a “character,” because the person who has character is seen as a “character”, an eccentric member of a tribe, someone to be avoided in tribal society such as ours. Ours is a tribal society wrongly devoted to materialism and the acceptance of many conventional yet ugly thoughts and customs.
The immature “people goal” is to be “adjusted to popular ideas of normalcy,” like “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” or, “When in the world do as the successful worldly do.” The spiritual goal is to go beyond limited local tribal secular conformity and acceptance of the ways of mankind unredeemed by grace or reason to try to attain a universal goodness in line with the Spiritual Values of Holy Writings.
As the Apostle said, “ When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11) So it means don’t always pray manipulatively flying to bring God down to your understanding. Don’t gripe when you can’t. Stretch nearer to His level. Don’t curse him for responding to you on a level that assumes you are trying to be a spiritual adult.
In our post modem world many want to be eternally adolescents. It is pitiful. They pray as Augustine, the theologian, who tried to fight off his attacks of Christianity with, “God make me a Christian but not now.” People today in Western Civilization who are wearing blue jeans like High School kids at sixty are trying to remain eternal adolescents. Look around you. They still want wealth, cars, speed, drugs, and beautiful sex partners. Americans often think theirs is a Peter Pan civilization where people don’t have to grow up.
Thus, like the painted and older cosmetic innocents in the ever youthful court of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, our youth chasing Peter Pans of today dance the liberal minuets of amorality, pending bankruptcy and civic collapse as the homeless pace the streets of the cities and on the horizon are dark clouds hiding crashing and bombing Terrorists. Ah, the Peter Pans in denial of sin and human nature we get to watch dancing repetitively their worn out liberal minuets. Secular, materialistic, effetely idealistic, so perform the Peter Pans. The really fascinating thing is how the Peter Pans dancing for us seem incapable of putting a right foot forward.
As you and I both know mutton dressed as lamb is basically comic. Grown ups in leadership positions lacking maturity inevitably lead to ironies and tragedies. You should hear what these Peter Pans are praying for! That is if they pray, since God is not fashionable among liberals.
The Peter Pans are creatures sadder than King Lear who seems absolutely positive by them. Peter Pans at their age doing as they are, thinking as they do, are more to be pitied than censored, but they are, nevertheless, if out of social touch, not out of social reach. I suspect the tragedies will come. I suspect the bombs will drop. The rockets may fly. May God forbid. I wish it were not so. Or God did not lay the possibility upon my heart that I should share it with you.
But in past times the ax of history has rarely spared the decadent and the effete! Is the country not decadent? Nonsense, you know it is. Nor lie not to me to say the majority of the churches are not effete! I think these truths are self-evident to any thinker, and I suggest that in your hours of reasoning in God, you consider what such truths imply and what they can and well may mean.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.