Thursday, February 09, 2006
God Out of the Box
We have 2000 years of Christian history and writing that tells us who God is. Some of it's even true. There are even older writings that have been interpreted, filtered, described, researched in great detail in exegesis after exegesis. Some of that's true, too.
"Who do you say I am?" Jesus asked. "Come and see," Jesus invited. Whatever these brand-new disciples expected, they were still surprised regularly. Jesus wasn't like anyone else they'd ever met. No box would hold Him, nor the disciples as they worked out their own salvation, and I'll bet there was plenty of fear and trembling. Strange territory. God walking with us.
Now we have history. Everyone knows the name Jesus, and they think they know what goes along with it. The cross has become a symbol worn prominently around the necks of secular media stars. Made of silver, elegantly decorated. The real thing is rough wood and has blood on it, and shows God's demonstrated love. As Brennan Manning points out in "A Glimpse of Jesus," no other religion has anything like the cross.
God broke the box of history. We've been trying to rebuild it. When God saved me a couple of years ago I had nothing to lose so I just asked him to do whatever was necessary. That I'm still here shows God's care and lack of interest in doing things in predictable ways. I have a long way to go yet, wandering along through this very strange country colored by love.
I'm very good at sealing up the walls of my box so that no one can hurt me. I'm reminded of "Pilgrim's Progress," the Feeling Gate, the Ear Gate, the other gates. Wall them up. Box in the soul so that it's unaffected by the world. This doesn't seem to be God's way. He has been carefully at work from the beginning of this experiment, removing the stones from the gates because closed walls keep me from experiencing him. It seems that love doesn't exist without senses, without a whole human being. I'm very fond of intellect and hard answers like bricks used to build. It takes cement to hold things together, though, and the cement is soft, runny, dries up if not refreshed and oftentimes needs to be replaced anyway. Without it the structure falls apart.
I think the Holy Spirit is the main ingredient in soul-cement. He needs freedom to work. Love wants freedom... like a hart panting for water on a hot day. Love rains down on all of us. How sturdy is your umbrella? Mine was pretty strong, but not strong enough to resist the Living God of the Universe. His patience is greater than mine, and the water of his Spirit is replacing the old dried-up stuff in my soul. The results are unpredictable.