Monday, April 19, 2010

P4E.135 Basketball God

There's a scene in the movie "The Pistol, The Birth of a Legend" where Pistol Pete Maravich's father, Press, takes his Clemson University basketball team to task. As the players are gathered around him at practice, he asks for a basketball, then after drawing a circle on the ball about the size of a silver dollar, he holds it up and says, "The size of this circle represents everything that I know about basketball. But, the size of this ball represents everything about the game that's never been discovered!" Then he stabs the ball with the pen, leaving a point of ink on it and yells, "THIS DOT IS WHAT YOU KNOW! COMBINED!"

I'm beginning to think the same way about God. If it's not too heretical, let me put forward that if the infinite God could be represented by a basketball, what the finite Holy Scriptures tell us about Him could be represented by a circle about the size of a silver dollar. And what we know about Him could be represented by a pen-point! And even that is an exaggeration!

This is why it is now difficult for me to say anything with complete certainty about God, the Trinity, what happens after we die or anything else about "Christian theology." I'm not open to any old thing, I'm just not now willing to be adamant about much of anything.

Here's an example: One of the basic tenets of Christianity is that God will judge people based on whether or not they have "accepted Christ" into their hearts. If one acknowledges his sinful nature, accepts Christ as the Son of God and asks Christ into his heart, he will receive forgiveness from God the Father and will enjoy everlasting life in Heaven. A typical prayer goes something like this "God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I'm not perfect. But I want You to come into my life. Be my God for the rest of my life. I turn from my sin now. Help me to stay with you all the days of my life. In Jesus' name, Amen" If one does not accept Christ, he is condemned to hell for eternity. When Jesus was on the cross, some of His last recorded words were "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." What did God the Father do with Christ's dying request? Did He forgive those who betrayed, tortured, humiliated and crucified His only begotten Son? Or, did He ignore His Son's request? According to some, there is no way that the God that they know could forgive without all the steps being followed. Hmmm.

According to others, I've left out steps for true welcome into Heaven. Some would insist that one would also need to be baptised. Some would be satisfied with sprinkling water over the person being baptised, while others would insist that the whole body must be submerged...

Do you see what I'm getting at here? Are we actually painting our God into a corner from which we are afraid to let Him escape? Being finite human beings, we are already confined in our search for God by our language, by our senses and sensibilities. We can only use similes, analogies, anthopomorphisms, metaphors and the like to capture what we think He's like. We paint an old, wise looking man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and represent him as God. These are not idolatries. These are real people searching for meaning, filling gaps, representing a spiritual God in a material world. In that sense, we can never believe we have arrived at a whole, unified, complete understanding of HIM. God is mysterious not because He wants to hide, not because He wants to withhold, not because He wants to confound or confuse. He is mysterious because He simply cannot be fathomed by us. This should not discourage us in any way, but encourage us to seek Him out. To study and imitate His ways and to learn and duplicate His heart.

As this blog is about marriage, one application of these thoughts is this: Women are also characterized by men as "mysterious." As our wives, when we married we started a journey to become "one." We can't do that without knowing her very well. Our wives give us an opportunity to practice showing interest, to search out, discover, understand and respond to another person's spirit. One of my best friends is Gary Shoemaker, a New York architect. Gary is a wealth of knowledge in the area of architectural history. One time I asked him how and why he knew so much about the subject. His reply was, "Because I'm interested." I'm embarrassed that I don't know more about my wife. I'm embarrassed that I don't know more about my God. I'm embarrassed to think how they might interpret my (lack of) interest in them. God help me to know my wife and Him better! God help me to think of them in new and interesting ways that help me understand them better!

Peace, Kim

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