By Dave Hopwood
All attempts to define Christianity ultimately fail. They’re bound to. God is bigger than our words, pictures, books, names, stories, WWJD wristbands, festivals, revivals, speakers and lists of things. (By the way, did you know that DJWW stands for Does Jesus Wear Wristbands)
All we have at the end of the day to define God is our messy lives and God at work in them. I can describe to you my journey so far and you can tell me yours and of course that will help, but ultimately mine won’t be yours and yours won’t be mine. God is bigger than both of us. We just show each other a glimpse. Different camera angles.
This maybe why God won’t give any name to Moses, a name would put him a corner, suggest so many things he is not. All he’ll say to Moses is I exist, I am, I’m present, I’m in the present, I am the present. I’m there, I’m here, I’m with you.
Many Christians love the phrase Born Again it defines whether or not you’re in the club; but Jesus only used it in the one conversation with a man for whom it already had significance. And even then he described God like the wind something you can’t taste, smell, see, pin down, capture in a box, put in an image, or song, or one line description.
My 7 year old daughter is called Amy and has God in her life. Some people might say that one day she will need to be born again and make a commitment. But surely that misses the point. At the moment she shows the rest of us what it is to be 7 years old, have God in your life and be called Amy.
In many ways her faith is much purer than mine it’s not caught up with her ego, or her desire to impress her vision of God on others, in the way perhaps that those of us who are more mature are heavily driven by our egos and agendas. I want to impress upon you my amazing journey, my unique faith, and the brilliance of my thinking when it comes to God. That’s why I’ve written this article and am desperate for you to like it.
Amy is not that bothered.
She’s free to make profound statements like Will we be able to see Jesus in heaven? Yes? Oh good, cause then we won’t have to pretend.’ And having done this she’s then free and happy to move onto other pressing subjects like Scooby Doo, hair bands, swimming or chocolate spread. It’s seamless for her. No pretense, no bothering about looking good or impressing God. She’s just being Amy.
So what’s God like? Well he’s like the God who lives in you and inhabits your messy day to day existence. And he’s like the God who lives in me and inhabits my messy day to day existence. That’s all he will do to show himself and we can argue many things and write our many books, and give our many sermons. But they’re all too small, God is bigger than all of them and any attempt to even name God only diminishes him. Perhaps that’s why the Bible is so dense and mysterious. Because it brings God to us through so many different life stories, personalities, experiences, triumphs, failures, strengths, weaknesses and comedy moments.
In fact, when you think about it, it’s probably the best way for God to show himself in millions of different lives in millions of different ways. That makes him bigger not smaller, you could argue. ‘re always in danger of containing God in a single description, a single theology, a single experience, and thus making him smaller.
At the end of the day we are God’s multi-media and he’ll go on whispering and shouting and singing and laughing and crying through us. His living letters.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why God forbade people to turn him into an idol or a single created image because that would make him into something he has never been small, confined, lifeless. That’s why God can’t just live in churches and temples. A million galaxies can’t contain him, his thoughts, his ideas, his passion, zest, enthusiasm, wonder, compassion, attention to detail… and neither can any of these words.
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Dave likes loud music, good comedy, great films and Tony Parson’s novels. He finds the Bible hard to read so is dedicating much of his time to retelling it using all kinds of inappropriate things. That’s not his natural hair color.