Saturday, November 24, 2007

God in a Box

Human beings are limited. We are limited in our abilities, in our perceptions. It is a fact of our nature that we have a need to classify & define things in order to understand them. It is impossible for a limited being to understand or comprehend something that is unlimited, omnipotent, omnipresent. There is something in our nature that speaks to us, sometimes screams to us, that there is something more...but what? How can we begin to relate to something so huge? Thus are religions formed, books written, laws prescribed. They are boxes-frameworks or windows for viewing the divine-but who is to say that another framework or window wouldn't work just as well? There's more than one way to build a house, and there's more than one type of window. This is why I cannot take the Bible or any other book written by man literally. It would be like taking God, putting Him in a box, and then defining Him by that box. First of all, you can't put God in a box, and any framework or window used to view Him will inevitably leave something out. Who can say that the little book we call the Bible is capable of perfectly defining the Alpha & Omega? It can't. We can't. No book or religion can. God is not only more amazing than we know, He is more amazing than we CAN know.


I wanted to throw it all away there for awhile. It's true that no framework can completely define an unlimited, infinite, encompassing being like God. The Bible has its does every framework. We need a box, though. Everyone needs a box, a perspective, a framework and foundation to stand upon. We are limited, finite beings and our understainding of these mysteries is compromised by this. Any attempt we make to understand and define the infinite will ultimately fall short. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, though. If we were created by this God, with hearts that tell us there is more than what we see; with minds that question the boundaries imposed upon us and stubbornly persist in learning and growing beyond those limits; with spirits that constantly reach into the heart of this mystery, then obviously we were CREATED for this relationship that is also obviously beyond us. Every religion is an attempt to make the incomprehensible more understandable, to draw the unreachable closer, to create a framework for the infinite so our finite minds can wrap themselves around it, to put God in a box, so to speak.

For a long time I thought I could do without a box. There just wasn't a box I could find that was big enough to hold my infinite God. It seemed so wrong, somehow, to put my faith and trust in limited human definitions. I explored other religions, other writers...I read everything I could get my hands on. I learned a lot. I found great truths and great beauty everywhere I looked. Some nights I went to bed feeling like my head would explode with all the thoughts swirling around in it. I thought I might be headed for enlightenment, but as my journey progressed I found myself feeling more and more lost and confused. I had so many pieces of this puzzle, but no framework to hold it together. When you start a puzzle, you always start with the edges, the make a box. This thing had no edges, no boundaries...there was no box, and I could never have all the parts. I needed a box.

Christianity is my box. You won't always find me inside this box. I mean, sometimes I climb under it, and sometimes I try to wrap myself around it, sometimes I stand on my tiptoes on top of it. I came back to Christianity because it was familiar and comforting, and I stay because of this: Through the person of Christ this infinite God wrapped himself in human skin so we could wrap our finite hearts and minds and arms around him. We could never possibly hope to reach Him, no matter how much we learned and grew and understood, so he reached out to us. And though one day our bodies will die and become like the dust they were formed from, because of him our spirits have been givin a free pass to experience eternity. I know I still hold only part of the puzzle, but I also know this: "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12) Jesus Christ is a box. "Phenomenal Cosmic Power...itty bitty living space" (sorry...I had to throw that in!). I may never be able to get my head around this cosmic mystery that is God, and I can never hold all the great truths that are out there, but I can hold on to Jesus and trust that one day I will see him, face to face.