We remember (again) that we are human when we fail in our attempt to be like God. This is what I learn every time I act on the presumption that I am a limitless self in a limitless world.
Congregations learn this too when they try to be all things to all people—when they try to gather two of every kind into their midst like a Noah’s Ark, and in this way attempt to exert the kind of power only the Hebrew God of myth has.
This is what they learn—that they are only human—when they are driven by the anxious presumption that if any good is going to happen in the world, it must happen through them.
Congregations and individuals try to be like God, and we can do this even if we don’t believe in God. We might not believe, yet this disbelief is powerless in the face of the anxious urgency to act just like the God we don’t believe in.
When people stop taking God seriously, they unconsciously and unknowingly fall into the trap of trying to be like God.
This is what happens. And so, when all our efforts to be God-like fail—and after we are finished beating ourselves up and beating each other up because we fall short of omnipotence and omniscience—we are grounded in the earth of our humanity. We can find a more honest and compassionate way to live.