I was reading through Crazy Love, a book by Francis Chan that pointed out one of the aspects of God that I realized I don’t like. Francis asked the question, “Can you worship a God who isn’t obligated to explain His actions to you?” The question made me pause. Logically, a god who was obligated to explain all his actions doesn’t sound like a god worth worshiping, but something wasn’t sitting well. So I asked myself the question, “What if it’s not about obligation but about relationship?” My childhood was about learning to respect God as an almighty being; my adult life has been about learning to love God as a relational being. But what kind of a relationship is it if I constantly feel like I’m in the dark about God’s plans for me and why things have to be a certain way?
It brought to mind Goku from the Dragon Ball series. He is frequently the most powerful of all the good guys, so whatever he says goes, but he also has a kind nature about him that brings people to trust in him. It’s come to my attention recently just how much God-like character is in Goku. He is the most forgiving of all the characters, preferring to convert his enemies to the side of good rather than destroy them. Like Jesus, if a villain talks to Goku, it doesn’t matter what kind of history the villain has, how many people they’ve hurt or killed, or even what they’ve done to Goku himself, he will have a friendly conversation with them as if their history doesn’t matter. On the other hand, if they are presently doing anything to hurt his friends and showing no sign of stopping then he will go Old Testament on their ass. And even then he usually gives his enemies a second chance…after beating them to a bloody pulp.
For these reasons I’ve come to respect Goku lately (as, I suppose, a fictional character for myself to look up to as a writer of fictional characters). But there was still something douschie about him, and as Francis Chan pointed out, it was something that he and God shared in common.
Goku has a tendency to be perfectly calm in the face of Earth’s certain destruction, while all his friends are freaking out. He can see that his friends are panicking, but it’s as if he doesn’t care. He’s not panicking, so why should they? I’m thinking in particular about the
Cell Games at the end of the Android Saga. Presumably, when Goku doesn’t panic it’s because he has a plan. But he doesn’t share his plan with his friends; he’s content to let them continue to worry. This is an aspect of God’s character that I find hard to accept.
Now I sat down and thought about this. Essentially all of my beliefs are founded on the premise that God is the way that he is for a reason and if it seems wrong then there’s something I’m missing. So if Goku does it and it seems douschie, but God does it also and
it’s therefore okay, then why is it okay? Why does Goku expect his friends to be at peace, just because he is at peace over information that he’s not sharing with them?
The answer that came to me was, “Because after everything they’ve been through they should know to trust him by now.”
After all the times that Goku has saved Earth, his friends should recognize that cunning smile when it shows up, and they should know what it means. That has nothing to do with Goku’s authority as leader or his obligations, that’s something learned through relationship. When Jesus was asleep on the boat during the storm and all the apostles were freaking out because didn’t they didn’t know what would happen and Jesus hadn’t
told them what he planned to do about it (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus was surprised that they actually thought they would all die there. After everything they had already been through with him, shouldn’t they have known that he would keep them safe?
In thinking again of the Cell Games, Goku had a reason for not giving away his plan just yet. While everybody else was freaking out over being kept in the dark, his son Gohan responded with more of a solemn wonder. He didn’t know any more about Goku’s plan than anyone else did, but still trusted him. It wouldn’t be revealed until much later that Goku’s secret weapon was actually his son Gohan.
During their time together, Goku sensed that Gohan’s abilities were surpassing his own, and realized that Gohan was the best chance they had of defeating the villainous Cell, but if he had told Gohan beforehand that it all rested on him then Gohan might have panicked and not been able to focus on his training. So Goku fought Cell first, to lay down a battle plan for Gohan. The whole time he fought with Cell it was as if he was saying to Gohan, “Look son, this is what you do. This is how he fights. These are his weak points. Here’s how you counter.” Then when it became clear that Goku wasn’t strong enough to defeat Cell he submitted, walked up to Gohan and said, “Now do as I have done,” or words to that effect. If he had told Gohan beforehand that he would have to fight Cell then he would have wasted too much time and energy being worried, he didn’t reveal his plan until after showing Gohan in a practical way that he could do it, and then calling him to step up.
There’s a reason God doesn’t reveal his master plan to me all at once but only bits and pieces here and there. Through time and experience and building this relationship I may come to trust him better.