“When Christ is understood in terms of a cohesive theological system, Jesus becomes subordinated to a human description. The “idea” of Jesus is treated as the equivalent of the reality of Christ. We are then hindered from growing in His life, being tied down to a frozen construction of Him. We also become insulated from the challenges posed by the reality of Christ, which always exceeds our present descriptions of Him.”
I love to read. I love to write. I love to read things that challenge my thinking, and write things that I’ve been challenged with. Call it stretching exercises for the heart. It’s my way of expanding both my horizons, and my understanding of things; which, of course, is a good thing in the realm of the spiritual, as God is very quick to let us know that both are FAR short of His horizon and understanding of things. Yeshua, Meshiaca (aka Jesus Christ) is, therefore, much more than we can possibly comprehend…but we have so many constructs to contain him, don’t we? Our dogmas. Our practices. Our religious structures. Our creeds. Our theologies, doctrines, all that. The systems we humans have spent thousands of years constructing, fine tuning, reworking in order to be able to…have a God we can wrap our heads around, really. A God that we can, largely, explain. A God that ALWAYS operates this way or thusly. A God who always operates within the lines we give Him.
Problem is, a god limited to our constructions is not God. A God whom we can understand is not THE God. We just made that god up. We gave him parameters that, even though we don’t actually come out and SAY it (because, hey…he’s God, and He might get mad), we expect Him to constrain Himself to. We then attribute all sorts of doctrines and theologies to Him, giving Him credit for coming up with the ideas in the first place. Trouble is…I’m not so sure He would adopt many of them.
Ever notice that every group who talks about God in the affirmative is part of the “in” group? Funny, really, since none of the groups can seem to agree on just what God would accept, what He would do, how He would do it, WHO he would accept, and what those parameters are; YET, each group will tell you that they are “in”, and the others all have “questionable theology”…but not their group. Funny, isn’t it? Wonder why that is?
I believe it’s because we don’t have this God thing figured out nearly as much as we kid ourselves into thinking we do. Of all the things God is, what he MOSTLY is, to us, if we allow ourselves to be honest…is Mystery. Just plain unknowable. Beyond our grasp. Entirely out of our realm of understanding. For some, that just isn’t good enough, and so we do a little creating of our own. Fashion a god that we can get behind, support, and who loves who we love. There’s a problem with that, of course, and Ann Lamott said it best:
“You know you’ve created God in your image when it turns out He hates all the same people you do.”
Another quote goes like this:
“God created man in His image, and we decided to return the favor.”
But it’s no favor, neither to us, nor to God. God’s name is “I AM THAT I AM”. More literally, it is “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE”. In other words, “I am whatever I choose to be, and good luck trying to wrap your head around that.” Why we think we can wrap a ‘systematic theology’ around God is really beyond me. There’s nothing systematic about God. Nothing predictable. We think He’s predictable because of what we’ve read in the scriptures. And we think we can deduce what He’s going to do next by what He’s done before. But that would be a mistake, a mistake that’s been made time and again in the stories of scripture. Yet, it’s a mistake that, at least one time, David managed to avoid.
The Philistine army declared war (again) on Israel. David asked God what to do. God told David to meet them head on, and He’d give them the victory. And so He did. Maybe six months later, the Philistines came back. In the same valley. With the same demands. The same everything. Absolutely nothing was different about it. David could’ve just acted based upon past experiences with God, right? Nope. David asked God if he should meet them head on again. God said…NO. THIS time, He said, I want you to go around behind them, then wait until you hear the sound of marching in the trees. Then, and only then, you can attack.
Curious, isn’t it? The bottom line though, is that God, while the same yesterday, today, and forever, is not, apparently, using the Webster’s dictionary definition of ‘same’ that we often apply to that idea. He changed. Why? Simply because He’s God…and He can.
In many places in scripture, the word that is translated ‘spirit’ is the exact same word that means ‘wind’. Think of the phrase in 2 Corinthians 3: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. Where the Wind of God goes, freedom goes with it. Can we predict the wind? Sometimes, yes, with some degree of success, but then there’s the dust devil. Or the tornado. Or the hurricane. Or the wind simply shifts. If we are sailing, then we can’t demand that the wind take us where we think it ought to take us. We can moan and groan that the wind isn’t blowing the way we thought it would, but we’ll either be blown off course…or dead in the water. Nope. All we can do is adjust our sails. Adjust. Boy, that’s a hard word for the world of religious institutionalism to swallow! Adjust. The more commonly known word is ‘change’. To stop what you’re doing, and start doing something else, because the Wind is moving in a drastically different direction, and we either adjust…or float aimlessly.
The question then becomes this: Do we want the freedom God promises? Well, it may well be that we have to let go of everything we think we know sometimes. Chart a completely new course. Drop some excess weight and baggage (we’ve got plenty of that!). Follow the wind, and stop assuming the Wind will follow us.
Baggage. Some of that stuff is expensive, and dear to us, isn’t it? We’ve had some of that stuff for YEARS, man. Well, do you want to catch the Tradewinds, or not? If so, that stuff may have to go. It might even be…a theological contruct! (gasp!) Guess what? It’s not God.
I’m calling for a new look at our Father, Son, and Holy Wind. That Wind is our guide. We’ve got to stop holding it hostage to what we think we know. The Spirit is our teacher, our guide, and it, like the wind, goes wherever He pleases. We best go with it. Because wherever that Wind is going, even if it’s going in an entirely different direction than what we were trying for or hoping for….