No, you’re not seeing things and this isn’t an administrative glitch. I published a post earlier today as is my habit, however extenuating circumstances have required I post another. “Exactly what circumstances”, you ask? Tony Jones over at Theoblogy has issued a challenge for liberal theo-bloggers to write a post that talks about God outside the context of Christ, and today is the deadline. Initially, I thought I totally had this covered. My posts tend to be far more God-centric than Jesus-specific. It was only after pouring through my archive that I began to discover something…
It’s actually pretty rare that the focus of one of my posts is on God, and not my interactions with him. This isn’t altogether a bad thing, I don’t think. The entire point of this blog is to chronicle our journeys as we try to find God in everyday life, so looking at him and describing him through the lens of our own perspective and experiences makes sense. I think problems arise, however, when we grow so used to the way God looks through our own lens that we refuse to believe that he might look different in someone else’s.
Humans are ethnocentric; we assume that if something is true for us then it has to be the exact same way for everyone else. I’m not fully convinced that’s accurate. Let’s all imagine that we’re looking at God through sunglasses. Actually, scratch that. Let’s go with Geordi La Forge’s infinitely cooler VISOR. We’re all looking at the same thing, but seeing it completely differently. Some of us may be viewing God’s electromagnetic fields while others are looking at him on an infrared frequency. Others might be looking at God on a microscopic level. Or, for the non-nerdy inclined, some of our perspectives might cause God’s Grace to resonate more strongly with us, whereas someone else finds their thoughts focusing on God’s Authority. You can see this in action when two people read the same verse and come away with two completely different interpretations. (Hopefully at least one of them has employed decent hermaneutics.)
But here is where I think things could get a little tricky… What if God chooses to present himself to different people in different ways? That is to say, what if we’re not looking at exactly the same thing? I could totally see God choosing to reveal only certain aspects of himself to someone to encourage their growth in a particular direction. Once they’ve learned the lesson he wanted to teach, he begins to show new aspects of his personality.
Why? Why all of this confusion? Why all of the perspectives, why all of the varying shapes of God? I think it might be because God is infinite and ridiculously complex. I’m not sure one human can hold all of God in their brain and not explode. (Metaphorically speaking… Maybe.)
I remember hearing a story when I was a kid. Three blind men approach an elephant and each try to describe it. One at the trunk says, “It’s like a snake!” One at the elephant’s side says, “It’s like a wall!”, and another at the tail says, “It’s like a rope!” All of them we’re kind of right, but it’s only after engaging each other in conversation that they began to piece together their findings to get an accurate idea of the Truth.
So it is with God. Maybe we’re all seeing pieces so we can help create a more vibrant picture when we come together. I guess the take away here, is don’t be quick to judge other peoples’ perception of God. Take some time and try to add it all up in your head. In fact, the next time you stumble across a God Epiphany, take some time and ask if there’s an ongoing pattern to the pieces you’ve been discovering. Who knows? Maybe you have someone else’s missing piece.