Four foundations about God
My wife Eira tells me that it is very easy to express yourself professionally and difficult when talking about God. In my early days in church service, when my world of ideas was full of the theological lectures I had to attend during my four years at Oxford and two years in Cambridge, Eira said that I had sometimes been very enigmatic when I came from the pulpit preached.
She made it easier to understand, and still does, the way I preach about the foundations of the Christian faith.
She is right, of course. Jesus made it his business to speak in the simplest terms when teaching about faith and life. He knew that if no one understood what he said, there was no point in saying anything at all. Explaining something clearly does not mean being superficial. Let's talk about some basic points that we all should know about God.
God is interesting
If a sermon on God ever seems boring to us, it is because of the preacher, because he or she has disregarded the basic rules of communication. Maybe we are responsible because we did not pay enough attention. We can be sure that guilt is never with God. All interesting things in the world are nothing more than pale reflections of the God who created them. There is no more fascinating study in the world than the study of God. The Bible invites us to study as it asks us to love God with all our minds.
Of course, it is often easiest to study God by looking at how creation mirrors the divine. This is more like the way we find it easier to look at the reflections of the sun in creation than to look directly into the glare of the sun.
If we look at a rainbow, we enjoy the different colors, but none of these colors would be perceptible to us if the sunlight were not reflected by them. The world would not be interesting if it did not reflect God's own nature.
God is up to date
When we speak of God as the Creator, we do not mean that God at some point in the past pressed a button and all things came into existence. We also believe that the fact that we are here at all depends on the continuing creative activity of God.
Last week I tried to find out why some people feel that science has refuted religion. That is certainly not true. Science and religion ask completely different questions. Science asks: "How do things work in this world?" In return, theology asks: "What is life about and what is the meaning and purpose of everything?" We could actually get along quite well without understanding the small print of the laws of science, but if we never ask about the meaning and purpose of our life on earth, how can we make the best of life and use the best for it? we and the world are much poorer.
Others may assume that God is out of date because it would only be possible to worship God in the language of the old prayer book. It is likely that, if you thoroughly investigate, you will find prayer book services in a church not far from your home. I personally thank God for that. However, the majority of worship today uses a very different language. Family worship services with modern hymns performed by guitar groups and supported by LCD projectors are becoming more and more popular.
Others may think that Christianity is out of date because they have met Christians whose view of life does not suit their own. Well, that's tough! Since when is it necessary or even healthy for us all to be replicas of each other?
God is involved and involved in everything
It used to be common to split life in two. We differentiated between "holy" and "secular". It was a bad division. It indicated that parts of life matter to God, things like going to church, saying prayers and reading the Bible, but other things are not God's business, like going to work, throwing darts, or just going for a walk.
Even if we insist on dividing up, God is totally secular, interested and absolutely involved in everything, not excluding the religious elements, but also incorporating everything else. That's because you and I, all we do, is all that we are for the 'God involved'.
God has created all life and every life is important to him. Jesus says, Behold, I am standing at the door, knocking. Whoever hears my voice and opens to me, I will go in to it. Of course, he stands at the door of the church, but also at the door of the pub, the factory, the shop and the apartment. As you read this text, God stands at the door and knocks on you wherever you are.
God is unfathomable
Many years ago, I met a man who claimed to me that he had the teaching of the Holy Trinity well packaged in his head. Some time later, he failed at the university and had to finish his education without any qualifications. In a way, he deserves it. He really seemed to believe that his own mental abilities would be sufficient to fathom the secrets of God, but of course God is far too big for that.
Maybe we can all learn from it. We want to reduce God to a size we can understand. The temptation for the theologian is to reduce God to the size of a formula of faith. The cleric is tempted to reduce God to the size of an institution. Some Christians are tempted to reduce God to the size of this or that religious experience. But none of this is sufficient. God is too big, too far, too boundless, and will go beyond the shackles of any formula, institution, experience that we could conceive.
All this is part of the Christian life and the total unfathomability of God. No matter how much we know about God, how well we know Him and how much we love and adore Him, there will always be so much more to know, to love and to worship. We should celebrate and enjoy this constantly; and what I personally find so amazing is that this God of infinite power and glory, whose nature we will never quite understand, let alone fathom, is waiting for you and me to explore a multitude of possibilities in life.
God is interesting and he finds us interesting too. God is up to date and deals with your today and your tomorrow - including mine. God is involved and wants to be accepted in us and by us to participate. God is unfathomable and will always be with us as a personal friend. God blesses you continuously as you live and grow and rejoice in everything that can mean to us day by day.
by Roy Lawrence