God as “Thou” instead of “It”

Why is it that people who spend all their life denying God, living defiantly apart from him, also blame him when things go wrong?

It seems like God is a commodity, a celestial insurance policy where premiums are optional. When things go well God’s influence is an intrusion. In a calamity, these same people file their claims and expect God to redeem the situation.

Martin Buber described the nature of two types of relationships, ‘I-Thou’ and ‘I-It’. Crudely stated, an I-Thou relationship is one where the other is one in we have become invested. They matter beyond what they can offer us, but exist as a wholly other. We are influenced by them and their needs and hopes become our needs and hopes. In an I-It relationship the other exists for the sole purpose of serving us. In that sense a person may be no more important to us than a coffee cup or a pad of paper. All that matters is that our needs are served.

I-It seems to be the nature of modern spirituality. I’ve heard people condemn religious institutions because they have nothing to offer. Religion is a service industry. If the needs of the self aren’t met, then it’s necessary to move to a religious institution that offers better services.

A natural suspicion is cast on those institutions that demand service from individuals. These type of institutions are perceived as self-serving in their intent. In fact, they may be no more self-serving than the individual who attends based on their own assessed need. The institution may be just as guilty as viewing the individual as an ‘It’.

To move beyond the ‘I-It’ relationship to an ‘I-Thou’ is inherently risky. It places the individual as a potential victim, as another’s ‘It’. Whether individuals view someone as a ‘Thou’ has little bearing on how others react. In a world of ‘I-It’ relationships, those who seek others in an ‘I-Thou’ are rare and precious. How much more rare are those who seek the ‘I-Thou’ in God. Individuals pursuing such a relationship must navigate through a seemingly endless maze of other individuals and institutions who claim authority in matters of the divine and yet only desire to use people for their own selfish ends.

Hope of fulfillment resides in the nature of relationship. God rewards those who earnestly seek him. The divine ‘I-Thou’ relationship remains possible, but only to those who genuinely seek God as a ‘Thou’.

I hope this little rant doesn’t completely confuse. I simply needed to put it down to clear my own thoughts on this matter.


About vanyieck

There is nothing about me that is more interesting than you. I am a man. I have a wife and family. I have a career. I have two dogs. I
This entry was posted in divine, divine relationship, God, I-It, I-Thou, Martin Buber, relationship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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