What is this thing we call God? What better question for Good Friday?
My half-grasped concepts of the divine have ebbed and flowed, sometimes receding so far as to be out of sight, whilst at other times exploding into almost painful transcendence. I have to own the fact that all of these concepts I have held are wrong– if not in entirety then at least in that they only contain a glimmer of gold amongst all the rusty iron. Some of this iron has stained me, even though I threw it as far as I could.
The biggest stain I bear was an inevitable consequence of being immersed in the Evangelical worldview throughout my childhood and early life. Within this world view, God is seen as the harsh unyielding judge, ruling the universe against the heavy yardstick of sin. This God sent his son as a softer version of himself to speak softer words of love even though in the end he had to die in order to make his point because of our sinfulness and unworthyness. We can escape this God’s wrath only on a technicality because this God will only accept perfection. Anything less will be burned for eternity in pain and anguish.
Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I have fallen out with this concept of God. I hope this God does not exist. I believe that this God is not worth believing in.
But if so, what God does exist? Perhaps, like me, you have been stained by the the God as described above, so much so that you no longer have any concept of God. If so, I would understand. I am not ready to let go of the divine just yet however.
The glimpses I have that are still meaningful to me go something like this;
God is that from which all things flow.
God is the life in everything.
God is that that binds everything together, despite all that tries to force it apart.
God is not bound by law, but God is in essence love.
Perhaps the whole universe is actually contained in the mind of God…
What might this mean for we humans? I do not think that we have any right to capture the truth of God and lock it in any one religion. Rather I think that The glory of God is a human being fully alive. (St. Irenaeus of Lyon). To be fully alive means being connected, because that is what we were made for. All sins are ultimately sins of separation from this connection. Once broken, everything starts to come apart. Sadly, exclusive me-first religion is guilty of breaking this connection as much as anything else, which was probably why Jesus had so little time for it.
Talking of Jesus this good Friday, the follow on question from the one above is this; why did God have to die? What did the death of Jesus achieve? It is said that on the cross, the Wrath of God was satisfied, as if the stretched-out slaughter of his son was the only thing that could turn his mind to mercy; as if the mind of God could never be remade once fixed. Perhaps this only ever made sense in the mind of religious men.
Perhaps God still needs to die in order to kill narrow judgemental religion, just as he did back then. Perhaps then we might come to see that the way of love requires first that we notice the sins of separation and seek a different kind of repentance – one that honours death by seeking life in all its fullness.
Or life in all its connectedness.