There's so much controversy with this book and I really don't get it. If you understand that William P. Young wrote it for his children, if you understand that he makes no claim to be a theologian, if you understand that it's fiction, why all the fuss? There are lots of criticisms but I want to focus on the one thing that seems to bother people the most. Much of the talk and outrage seems to be over the way God is characterized. This afternoon I was lying down with Little Sister, trying to get her to nap, and I don't know what got me thinking about it but I wrote this blog in my head...so here it is.
Big Sister asked me yesterday, "Mom, why can't we see God?" What a question. I wasn't really sure what the five-year-old answer is supposed to be. I think I said, "I don't know, but He's always with us and one day we will see Him and it will be great!" But as I lay there this afternoon with Little Sister I thought some more about my answer. The truth is, in a way, we do see God. All the time. It occurred to me that I ought to point Him out. Kind of like this:
Remember when you hurt yourself today and Daddy held you in his arms and kissed away your tears? That's what God looks like.
Today when your friend gave you her toy to take home just because she wanted to and she didn't ask for anything from you? That's what God looks like.
In fact, I ought not just point Him out, I ought to show her myself. We always talk about wanting people to see Jesus in us. What does God look like? When someone forgives...that's what God looks like. When someone makes a sacrifice for someone else...that's what God looks like. When someone gives to the poor...that's what God looks like. When someone adopts...that's what God looks like. I'm sure you could add many more and I'm sure you could think of at least one person in your life that in at least one moment, showed you what God looks like. And those people are men, women, young, old, black, white, rich, poor.
Is it really so terrible that a regular guy used the characters that he did to show a little bit of what God looks like in a story for his children? Why is it okay that C.S. Lewis portrays Him as a lion? Why is it okay that Evan Almighty portrays Him as an African-American man? 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "Man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart." I guess I think the critics of The Shack should look at the hearts of the characters. After all, we are all made in His image. And while no one on the planet could personify or even describe God completely, He is always there. And we can know Him. And like I told Big Sister, one day we will see Him and it will be great!