God is, we are. by Deon Crafford
Matthew 8:5-10 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
Just yesterday I stumbled on some quotes by Baruch Spinoza, regarded as the great atheist of Western tradition, on God and the Sacred Scriptures. In one of these he states: Every representation of God as a person is a projection of the imagination. He was also clear to dismiss the Holy Bible as human production and hence not worth the value associated with it. Spinoza argued that God is everything – the universe and its laws (to which I agree) but he clearly depersonalised God – not being someone who I can directly or “person to person” relate to. To each his own, but there is an entirely different way to look at the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
Either God presented Himself to us as a philosophical document of reason and positions, like Spinoza’s Ethics, or He presented Himself to us through a plethora of people just like us who experienced, lived and engaged Him just like He is. I think God chose the latter and because He did so, He has become real and present in my life, not the projection of so some logic-searching, human intellectual exercise – which leaves Him cold and impersonal. I know the God I have experienced is not the latter. And my experiences are coloured by the experiences of other people just like you and I, either interspersed throughout the Holy Bible or present throughout my life. God is alive and He manifests His life through the lives of those He created and invited to be part of His directed and purposeful play. The more I understand my fellow invitees, even though they may have lived thousand of years ago, the more I come into the richness of my relationship with God. For me then the Holy Bible is a Spiritual stew of personalities. Just like the ingredients of a stew, are limited to their own taste qualities, so individualism has severe limitations. But once these ingredients or personalities are fused, an entirely new and superior taste or “personality” arises. And today for me, the divine, superior and infinite person of God arises from the fusion of all those He constantly and personally engages with. In African philosophy there is the principle of Ubuntu – I am because of you. If I am allowed some license, I would adapt this to: We are because God is, and God is because we are. Think about it for a while and maybe the haze will lift – we do not determine God, we display Him.
So returning to the stew of personalities, here is a challenge to us all. If we were to find our doppelgänger or twin in the Bible, who possibly would it be? And if we do identify that one, perhaps there is a rich new discovery of how God shapes and deploys diverse personalities in His purpose, even using their apparent flaws as instruments for good. The selfsame applies to us – despite our flaws, failures and freakiness, God has already marked out a role for us in revealing Himself in a dramatic and colourful display to the world.
Love to all