Read Along with Pastor Matt: Simply Christian–God

Posted: January 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

After outlining the story and importance of God, Israel, Jesus and the Spirit, Bishop N.T. Wright concludes the second part of Simply Christian by drawing together these strands into a summary of the faith’s understanding of the triune God.

The Bishop writes,

“God is the creator and lover of the world…Look hard at Jesus, especially as he goes to his death, and you will discover more about God than you could have ever guessed from studying the infinite shining heavens or the moral law within your own conscience.  God is the one who satisfies the passion for justice, the longing for spirituality, the hunger for relationship, the yearning for beauty.”

I wish I had the time to copy pages 139-140 because they are well worth your time but it is enough to say that if one really wants to know the triune God then one must spend a great deal of prayerful time with Jesus.

I have heard Wright say before that when he was a chaplain at Oxford and was introducing himself to new students, many would say, “Well, I won’t come to see you because I’m an atheist.”  Wright would push them on what god he or she disbelieved.  The student would typically stutter a description of the divine that amounted to no more than an old man sitting on a throne in a cloud looking down on earth from a distance while shaking his head at disgust at all of the rule breaking going.  Wright would respond, “I don’t believe in that god either! I believe in the God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.”

To put it again in Wright’s exact words, “Once we glimpse the doctrine–or the fact!–of the Trinity, we dare not slide back into a generalized sense of a religion paying distant homage to a god who is merely a quasi-personal source of general benevolence.  Christian faith is much more hard-edged, more craggy, than that.  Jesus exploded into the life of ancient Israel–the life of the whole world, in fact–not as a teacher of timeless truths, nor as a great moral example, but as the one through whose life, death and resurrection God’s rescue operation was put into effect, and the cosmos turned its great corner at last.”

If I may dared to add one thing, this Jesus who reveals God was not an emotionally distant pretty boy but a weeping, passionate 1st century Jew from a blue-collar household.  The picture above is from a BBC documentary that, with the help of forensic experts, created a computer sketch of what the average Jewish man in Jesus’ time looked like. 

Why insert it here? To follow Wright’s line of thinking of a God so passionately in love with his own fallen creation that he became a typical everyman who sweat, hurt, hungered and physically and emotionally embraced women and men who felt the same.  That’s not a god looking down from a distance shaking his head but one who is here among us.

Amen.

But what now?

We will begin Part Three soon.  Tune back in.

Until then, grace and peace.

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