And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. (Genesis 24:63a ESV)
There is something deeply mystical about the Christian faith, or there should be. Sometimes I wonder how we got so far from this idea. We treat Scripture, and therefore God, as if it can all fit neatly in an outline or a system. We think we can summarize all there is to know about the faith in a few volumes of what we deem as “Systematic Theology.”
The systematic study of God. That makes God sound like He is an organism that we can pick apart and dissect and study and eventually fully understand. And we are completely satisfied with this kind of god. He’s safe. He’s fathomable. Our words can describe him. He’s omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent and omnicompitent and omni-whatever-else-we-want-to-make-him.
That’s something else we like about this god. We make him what he is. In essence, he’s our superman. He is everything that we can never be but want to.
And because he is better than us, we think we can ignore him. We don’t have to connect with him. This god can be our savior, but not our lord. This wasn’t necessarily what was intended, but this is where our systematic deconstruction of who God is has led us.
And it has left the people hungry for more. In trying to separate from the Catholic church, the Reformers wanted to put the Bible in the hands of the people. Sadly, that was all that made it into their hands. God didn’t come with the book. God was only imparted to the people through the pastor and the sacraments, now deemed ordinances to get that bad Catholic taste out of our mouths.
People long to connect with God. Somewhere deep down this is a part of who we are as human beings. Because of sin we don’t necessarily pick up on this right away (if at all), but it is still there. It gently tugs at us. We need a connection. But because of sin, we have traded the infinitely valuable for the infinitely worthless. “We are far too easily pleased.” A seven course meal is set out before us, but we choose to go to McDonald’s instead.
Back to the connection.
People need to connect with God. That was why Isaac went out into the field to meditate. He was connecting with God. Generations of people have missed this connection and now they are seeking it again and yet…we condemn them for trying. They’re not using the right methods we say. They’re not using the right words we say. They’re undermining the gospel we say.
To connect with God is important. It is vital. But how do we do it? How do we connect with a God that has, to so many of us, ceased to be relational? How do we connect with a God who has stopped having an incarnation?
The God of the Old Testament had an incarnation: His chosen people, priests, the like. The God of the New Testament had an incarnation: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Supposedly, though, the Holy Spirit stopped manifesting Himself once the Church was established. Some comforter Jesus left with us, huh?
I am Reformed. But I need more than propositions. I need incarnation. I need connection with the God of creation. Why is my faith tradition so scared of this?