Four years ago, late at night, I was sitting in a comfy chair in my brother’s living room while he sat at the desk. He had just turned on some beautiful music and said he loved the artist, Joni Mitchell. I replied and said that I wasn’t familiar with her or the song. This sparked unbelief in him and embarrassment in me.
Fast forward to a few days ago, I intentionally turned on Joni for the first time since that occurrence. As I listened to song after song, I realized I knew Joni Mitchell without knowing it was Joni Mitchell. And what an interesting concept that is.
To recognize a person by their voice and that which is dear to them. This isn’t new, those that are blind or deaf live a version of this every single day. Can you know a person without knowing their face? Can you recognize a person without knowing their name? Can a person be known even if they cannot be heard?
So why can’t we apply this to faith?
I think we have given God quite the ego. The need to be praised and recognized on a daily basis in a certain manner and by a certain name. To be known and be proven right. Does that make any sense??? Why would God need us to defend her? I think the ego is ours but we impart in unintentionally to the God we serve. Brené Brown and Richard Rohr speak about this very thing on two of her recent podcasts, Unlocking Us.
We treat God as though we have him figured out. As though we understand the parameters of what she likes and how she likes it. But if we are only just beginning to grasp the expanse of our own galaxy, how can we think that all there is to know about God is contained in one compilation of poetry, oral history put to paper, parables, wisdom teachings, prophecy, and letters?
And here is the best proof I can offer up that God is bigger than the book:
Period. One word. One name. Translated it means: Lord. The Existing One. And if you take the word apart, it means ““to become” or specifically “to become known” – this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly.”
For so long, Christians have treated the Bible as though it contained all of God. When the very name God was most known by, speaks to the very nature of how unrestrainable he is, I think it needs to be foremost in our brains to be open and accepting, attentive to the holy all around us. No more could a Christian hold back the tide, than the Bible could God.
The kids and I have been listening to the audiobook “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. I went to an Evangelical youth camp where this movie was used to show that without Jesus you can only have the appearance of intelligence, courage, or love and that too often people choose to go to those who appear to have the power to change others. But I think a different allegory can be found in this tale. Too often we look for a God we can understand and take apart. One that doesn’t pull the wool over our eyes, but I think we do a good enough job of that ourselves. We want validation and certification of what we already possess. My oldest was frustrated by the fact that Oz didn’t actually give the weary travelers anything, because they already had it. He knew it. Oz knew it. But Oz gave them the validation they needed. So here are the characters as I see them: people = the band of mighty travelers, Oz = the church.
That’s probably enough blasphemy for today.
Naaaaah. Two last thoughts.
I wonder if this is one of the reasons in the 23rd Psalm we are given the image of a shepherd that leads us by still waters. Because it is a wonderful tool for reflection. Literal and figurative. Because if we are willing to look for that holy Shepherd, we will find those holy moments where we realize who we are. And thereby realize who God actually is. It is circular.
But that also makes me wonder if the purpose of 1st Corinthians is so that we see ourselves through the eyes of Christ and therefore see Christ with our eyes. The whole chapter really could be applied in that manner, but I am thinking specifically of verses 11 & 12, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
As a child, my understanding of Christ and my place in this world was both simple and simply complex. That Jesus loved me was enough. And it is. But now my understanding of Jesus is much more complex as is that of myself. And we see in a mirror dimly to see our reflection and catch a glimpse of the Great Unknown as he continues to reveal a new characteristic. And maybe that is the point. To be known.