The biggest breakthroughs in my faith have always smashed the box in which I was keeping my neat and tidy understanding of who God is and how God works.
When you read the Hebrew scriptures in the Bible, one lesson the Israelites had to learn over and over again was this: You can’t build a box in which you can fit God for safekeeping. (Andy Stanley covers this well in his book, Irresistible.)
Tabernacles aren’t a sufficient dwelling for God. Temples fall. Arks get lost (at least until Dr. Jones finds them…).
God actually “tabernacled” on earth himself in the form of his Son (John 1:14).
And what happened to the box that was Jesus’ physical body? He died. His body was buried. Since there wasn’t Instagram back then, we have little idea about what Jesus looked like other than that he most likely was not a white, blondish-haired European guy.
When Jesus was resurrected, he was raised as something new. Something mysterious. Something real, but cosmic. Something spiritual and still out of reach for those of us still limping around in human flesh. He passed in and out of recognizability, seemingly entered locked upper rooms without opening the door, and apparently still bore the scars in his hands and side left from his crucifixion wounds.
And just like the tomb, my little finite mind can’t contain God. I feel like I’m left with three options:
Option #1: Give up on believing that there is any such “god” at all, given that we don’t have any boxes lying around that contain physical evidence of his existence.
Option #2: Blindly embrace a traditional Christian viewpoint and its accompanying lengthy list of doctrines concerning God that some people seem to be absolutely sure about.
Option #3: Have faith, and be ready for that faith to warp and bend as I discover more about God’s existence and identity from various sources. John Wesley talked about learning about God from a quadrilateral of sources:
- Scripture (which must be interpreted by finite, fallible human beings).
- Tradition (what the church has said about God throughout history).
- Reason (which would include observation and scientific discovery).
- Experience (and yes, experience is subjective, as is the interpretation of ancient texts).
I’m at a place in life in which I’m going with option three, without apology. It’s where I’ve found the most life and hope.
I believe there is a God. And I believe God was incarnate in Jesus. And that he died by Roman crucifixion and rose again from the grave by the power of God. And I believe that God is ever-present with all of us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The nature of my faith, however, keeps adapting and expanding with new information. Or to put it another way,
God keeps breaking my “God” box.
Over and over.
As Pete Enns puts it:
Rather than being quick to settle on final answers to puzzling questions, a trust-centered faith will find time to formulate wise questions that respect the mystery of God and call upon God for the courage to sit in those questions for as long as necessary before seeking a way forward.
But here’s what I’ve learned and why I’m okay with all the broken boxes laying alongside the pathway I’ve traveled…
When my mind is blown, that’s when I grow.
Photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash.
- Hardcover Book
- Enns, Peter (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 240 Pages - 02/07/2023 (Publication Date) - HarperOne (Publisher)