God in a Box
Try to imagine a million things. We can’t do it, our brains can’t handle such numbers. There’s a lot of things we can’t really get our heads around, the size of the planet, the levels of deforestation, the numbers of planets in the galaxy etc. How we cope with those levels of things is to try and put them in a box. Things that are too big for us, too scary, we simply limit in our heads.
Sometimes we do this as a safety mechanism, other times because our limited senses just reach the limits of design. We experience a very limited range of light, sound, smell etc.
In the next few days we are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A god who came down to our level, so that we can react and understand him within the limits of our ability. See, he knows us, better than we know ourselves and so he knew had to come down to our level, to make himself as understood as we can possibly manage. He kept his lessons on the whole remarkably simple, encapsulated them in sentences that we can cope with. Parable’s based on the human condition explaining profound concepts or soundbites any politician would die for.
That’s him relating to us, pitching it perfectly as you would expect. However when we try to imagine him we place the same limits on him as he placed on himself. His by design, ours by accident.
I like social media, and on Christian websites I see debate’s on the bible about how it was created, I see Christians debate about the relative merits of one religion over another. The process of ordaining women bishops, non-heterosexual relationships, marriage. How literal we should take the bible, versus interpreting from the Greek and Hebrew. How valid these texts are when they were made over such a long period of time, creationism, evolution etc.
There is a constant between these debates as I see them. We want god in a box, limited by our understanding of love, time, space, the current politically correct position, our understanding of the scripture as seen through the prism of this era’s accepted norms.
Myself, I have been to different types of churches and felt god in that room, seen gay relationships that would be the envy of some. Been to countries that we demonise and found kind caring people.
Seen so many debates limited by this week’s version of the theories of time space and god’s ability.
Where all these idea’s end up are limited, fallible people using the limits they have to judge an infallible unlimited god that we simply cannot understand.
That should be our starting point for all of the debates that surround our faith.
He knew our limits and so he made it simple for us. He said, love one another as you love yourself. I didn’t see any exceptions or caveats to that. Then he said most importantly “Do Not Judge”
Why, because a god we cannot “put in a box” , transcends all of that and only he has the ability to weigh a man’s heart, he is unlimited we are not. So gay straight, Muslim, catholic, Anglican, evolution, creation. We are told that he knows our hearts and that is what we will be judged on by him. Only, our Unlimited, unknowable, too big for any box, god can judge us. We simply (ashe knew we can only cope with simple) have the job of loving one another.
On his most important day of the year, isn’t that the basic message?