It seems to me it’s unchristian to claim, or even aim, to know all the answers about God.
Think a moment with me. We Christians claim to believe in a God who created the entire universe from nothingness. How many of us could do that? What if we really tried? What if we formed a group and worked together on it? It’s a crazy thought, isn’t it? We are part of the creation, created with complex minds but minds that cannot begin to fathom creating a universe or even understanding how God could do it.
We claim to believe in a God who is everywhere at once, a God who knows every thought, every motive, and every action, at every given second, of 7 billion people scattered across the earth. How many of us can read the thoughts, dreams, and motives, every moment, of even the one person we know best? If we really tried hard, could we learn to know the heart, soul, and mind of every person in the world? No, because we are part of the creation, created with minds that cannot fathom knowing 7 billion people inside and out, or even understanding how God could know everyone so intimately.
Yet, we forget our place before God. We twist our religion to be about knowledge. We contrive and memorize “facts” about God, dividing ourselves from those who understand differently, making God into our image rather than us in God’s, because our image is all we are humanly capable of understanding. What if we devote our whole life to trying to understand God? Our knowledge will still be but an infinitesimal dot on the infinite picture of who God really is. We are part of creation, not designed for that kind of comprehension.
We can gain from listening with discernment to others’ attempts to describe and explain God. We can gain much from reading the writings of Christians through the ages. We have a priceless gift of testimony in the Bible. And the more broadly we read, from the broadest scope of human cultures, from the broadest scope of history, the broader insight we can gain into this God we worship and how this God interacts with humanity. Still we are capable of only one grain of knowledge on a never ending sandy beach. And it seems to me the more I “learn, ” rather than gaining more answers, I gain more questions, questions that lead me to seek God more deeply, questions that seem to say that the answers are not inside the human brain or capturable by human language. Perhaps to live truly Christian is to live comfortably and humbly amidst the questions?
Could it be perhaps that our spiritual response is not meant to be that we know everything about God, since by design, we cannot? Perhaps if we can see our place in creation, our spiritual reaction is more one of awe and worship, amazement and wonder.
Fortunately for us though, God gave us in Jesus a living picture we could relate to. Jesus who had feet like ours, and eyes and emotions, hungers and longings. And we have several written accounts of his life – multiple stories, multiple accounts of his actual teachings. What a treasure!
Alongside the awe and worship, it is in this touchable picture of Jesus that we can best understand our place with God. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father, ” he told those who followed him (John 14:9).
And every time we read the accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we meet an amazing man whose purpose was to show, teach, and make a way for us to find God, even in our infinitesimally small human understanding. Jesus’ life was not about politics. Jesus’ teachings were not about church doctrine. His life and teachings were consistent and simple, yet far from easy to live out. Live together in unity, he asked of his followers. Care for one another, and love one another. God and everybody. All the time. With all our wealth, with all our hearts, with all our passion.
Are we, are our Christian churches, attempting to relate to God the Jesus way, or our own? If we have fallen off track, Jesus has provided the path back home.
“A religion that is small enough for our understanding would not be big enough for our needs.” –Corrie Ten Boom
Kathy Vestal is a college educator in Salisbury, NC. She has a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master’s of Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. An avid writer, gifted teacher, and occasional public speaker/preacher, her passions include civil rights, social justice, church reform, and education. She has traveled to Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Ecuador, and The Gambia, Africa, and enjoys reading, nature, and history.You can follow her personal blog at http://kathyon.blogspot.com/ or follow her on Twitter @VestalKathy
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