I follow about 140 people on Twitter; a mish mash of friends, preachers and thinkers. It’s mostly a news feed of Christian ‘stuff’ and news with the occasional wander into the interesting world of Richard Dawkins.
Now, I know it’s unfair to judge others’ relationship with God, based on what they tweet about, but sometimes scrolling through that feed, it feels as though many of us have packaged up our ‘god’ into a nice, safe box. He’s become a sort of Jack-in-the-box toy in the corner, nicely presented in a shiny tin. We poke him and carefully prise off the lid when we’re bored with all the other toys.
In other words; a god of niceness, blessing, fuzzy feelings, a god who is socially conscious, concerned with the poor, who loves justice, who is environmentally friendly and concerned with our carbon footprint. A god who wants to bless me, make me feel ok with my repeated sin, who doesn’t judge, a god who DOES judge (all the time), accepts all equally and so on.
Don’t get me wrong – actually the God of the universe is ALL of those things but in the incredible myriad of millions of characteristics that He is made of, He’s not just one of those things either.
If we pick just one of those theologies and build our entire Gospel around it, we create a safe god, a toy in the corner who’s entirely under our control. He doesn’t mess with our thinking, doesn’t challenge what the status quo says, allows us to continue in a small, protected world.
But it’s a false view of God – it’s only a fragment of understanding because He’s just not understandable, not containable and He’s definitely not safe.
I’ve been reading the Psalms, which talk often of this breath-taking life-force, who can split oceans with just a nod.
At this God’s whisper; ‘Deep ocean was scared to death, clouds belched buckets of rain, sky exploded with thunder…the earth reels and rockets….’ and then in a cataclysmic, earth-shattering shout, He strides through the parting seas, while lighting exposes the world in brilliance. At least, that’s what Psalm 77 says.
And yet no one sees Him come and no one sees Him go. In other words, a God of planet-shaking, unexplainable contrasts – a God who shows Himself but who doesn’t show Himself; a God of judgement and righteousness and a God of intimate, loving touch.
He’s the very essence of everything and He’s also the very essence of nothing.
That’s who God is, when we dare to take Him out of the box we’ve created.