How easily could you define what God is to you if you could not use the word love? Would describing God be harder or easier if we were unable to refer to the Bible? What if we felt compelled to add our own incentives toward making a good description of God irresistible? How could certain Bible passages be rewritten so that everyone finally knew exactly what God meant to say to us all? These are interesting questions to ponder in discerning the Truth of the Christian creed. The challenge of putting our spiritual thoughts into written words offers a way to better understand this dilemma.
Since the invention of the printing press in 1440 and the typewriter in 1868, humans have worked to get everything into print. The original typing challenge was that technology had not caught up with our natural skills. Even the first typists were able to input keystrokes faster than the machines could accept them. The frustration this caused was much like we experience today waiting for an internet page to appear. The solution the inventors devised for leveling the playing field was to design a keyboard that subtly slowed the typist down.
We still use that same keyboard today, known as the QWERTY keyboard because of the order of the keys on its layout. The design causes the typist to use mainly their left hand for the majority of words in the English language. It took around 10 years of refinement to design the best combination of keys resulting in ease of use while still not exceeding the speed at which the typing machine could operate. While the designers could pat themselves on the back in the 1800s for such a subtle answer to their challenge, where did that leave us in the years to come when the speed problem became moot?
In recent years, a number of keyboard layouts have been designed to improve the typing speed of most users. So why haven’t any of those improved designs replaced the original QWERTY keyboard layout? The typists themselves resist such change because they already know and are satisfied with their current skill and keyboard. Even knowing there is a better way is not compelling enough to convince people to change due to our shared tradition and the need to re-learn a skill so many worked hard to develop.
So how does this relate to defining God? If we think overcoming a hindering habit that is 140 years old is tough, what about the spiritual beliefs we have set in stone for hundreds or even thousands of years? Imagine the early Christian leaders trying to figure out how to “market” their religion to the masses. The loving message of Jesus would always lay the foundation, but Jesus did little to empower the church and its spiritual leaders as the guide the masses were to follow. If the church’s goal was to organize Christianity, having the people going directly to God was a real problem. Jesus suggested that love and the Golden Rule would be enough. It was no surprise that humans believed they could improve on that.
Early on in Christianity, “required sacraments” were developed that strengthened the church’s position in society. This not only reinforced the clergy’s leadership role but also subtly diverted the people away from communing directly with God. The most compelling religious invention of all was to create a punishment so horrible for resisting what the church taught that only a fool would say “no” to it. After all, if simply saying “yes” to Jesus being your Savior allegedly assures you a place in heaven, who would say “no” to that? How much harm is there in promoting a white lie that is meant to keep people on the right path?
Such “altruistic” thinking secured the position of the QWERTY Christian creed more solidly than a prized investment. Most Christians who lived after that time have accepted that same creed as the Truth instead of a “means to an end.” God never has to change for He is perfect, but the “invested beliefs” of our traditional religious leaders have not kept up with our spiritual growth and ability to accept that God is unending love, patience and mercy with no downside.
If the creed of your religion feels awkward to you, perhaps it is time to set aside the old ways of spiritual thinking. Leading by fear and attempting to slow us down was man’s preference, not God’s. Once we set aside the QWERTY keyboard of our spiritual thinking and realize that we are of one spiritual family, a whole new way of life emerges. We all win by freely accepting His loving ways for our own, each at the time of our choosing. God is the perfect parent with more than enough love and patience to win over even the most stubborn of us all.