A Loss For Words
My journey of faith began in high school, where I found it incredibly easy to share what I believed with those around me. It was easy because it was simple, as it should be in the years of your youth. But as we grow up, so must our beliefs. In order for our faith in God to survive, He must become greater to us, and we must become lesser. As John the Baptist once said, “I must decrease so that He may increase.”
And God has most definitely increased in my life. I am more aware of His presence in times of both sorrow and joy. I trust in Him for the direction of my life more so than even a couple years ago. And I know He speaks to me through both Spirit and truth. All of this, along with being married, has helped me decrease.
Although I now understand my weight and value in God’s eyes more, I am also more aware of just how much grace He provides me daily to walk in His footsteps, and be where He is.
But to the disappointment of some, I must confess to you that since my past year and a half in Florida and working at the Breakers, I have only shared my faith in this great God a handful of times at best. I’ve shared it much more through actions and love, which has stretched me in new Christlike ways; but nonetheless, I’ve refrained from words mostly. So the question still puzzles me: if God is becoming increasingly more real to me, then why do I talk about Him less with others?
The Difference Between Micro Biology and Astronomy
I remember 7th grade Science class. Examining bacteria under a microscope, applying the Scientific Method, dissecting something so little and minute using our man-made principles. While this may be well and good for bacteria, we cannot treat God the same way. And I must confess, I have.
The size of our God shrinks when we attempt to dissect him piece by piece. Now Systematic Theology has its place (though I prefer the method of biblical theology) but it cannot be our only way of connecting with God. The trouble with pursuing theology is that we are pursuing theology, not God. When our only time with God comes through textbook-like evaluations, then God is reduced to a specimen that we examine rather than a being that we worship.
This is why for the longest time I was at a loss for words. I knew a lot about God in theory, but outside of the classroom, it was becoming difficult to contextualize what I knew. This is because the way God works doesn’t always mesh well with our man-made theological formulas that we use to define Him.
Life becomes more complicated as we get older. I’ve had to deal with many troubling questions through stories I encounter in my workplace. How do I stand by someone who’s being wrongfully convicted of a crime and tell them that God will serve justice their way? How do I assure someone to keep going when they are so tired and burnt out on life at such a young age? How do I look two gay people in the eye who love each other in the same way I love my wife and say that God doesn’t approve of their form of love?
These answers were at one time so much simpler. But now I find myself stumbling over words and questioning principles I once held so dearly. After just trying to ignore God, He stepped in and helped me realize the problem: I cannot fit Him under a microscope. To fully behold His glory, I need a telescope.
Out There and In Here
God is above and beyond us, far greater than anything our eyes can behold. Yet at the same time, Jesus tells us that He’s also near us, so close that He knows our thoughts and inner most desires.
This is why Jesus is so significant. God becomes someone we can behold. At first glance He may look like us, but then we realize that He’s come to make us look more like Him. That is the goal of His will. Not for Him to be glorified for the sake of demanding the worth due to Him, but rather to make us one (John 17). This is how God is glorified through us.
No matter how far I run, He’s always pursuing me. He will never let me go. Why? Because He’s claimed me His, I hear His voice, and remember that God finishes what He starts.
Even when God invites us to the mountaintop and we decline to be where He is (Exodus 19) He still gives us truth, and provides Manna for our every need. God is relational, and like all relationally rational beings, we cannot confine Him to microscopes.
My Deconstruction Period
My feeble words cannot describe the wondrous presence of God in my life, because no matter how many times I’ve read the Bible, it’s not until real life hits and those words come alive to me in action, that I am left in awe of God. And after being married for a year and living in a new place, God has used plenty of moments to bring His Word to life. There is a real spiritual battle raging inside us, and if we only listen to God when we are studying Him, instead of in our homes, workplaces, and yes even our dreams, then evil will win. God is always trying to tell us something, are we willing to listen?
After countless wrestling matches between Calvinism and Armenianism and trying to find the perfect “soulmate” in a church, I’ve become tired of shoving God into a box. God is bigger than our labels and label-makers. Jesus is God, and any theology we use to understand Him must not be rooted in our own presumptions and biases. Though that is impossible, we must let the text of Scripture speak for itself in context, not trying to force it into our own theological or ministerial agendas.
So these last two months, instead of blogging, I thought I’d take a journey and “deconstruct” Christianity. I did this through writing a story titled My Name Is Hebel: A Theological Poem. I found this to be more worshipful than anything I’ve done in months, as it challenged me to get at the heart of Christianity, our beliefs and actions. The truth is that life in a fallen world is short, but there is great joy to be had in the beauty of life. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all the mysteries in life, the simple made wise and profound.
Theories of atonement, election and hell can be fun. But my faith has become much simpler, focused less on theological minutia and more on the person of God as seen in Jesus Christ. Theology is the language we use to aid our understanding of God, and this is why I will spend the rest of my life pursuing God through theology from all different periods in church history.
Perhaps now, when it comes to non-Christians in my life, I am ready to start using words again.