March 11, 2005

Who is God?

He's fifteen, and he wants to know who you are. What do I say? I don't even know who you are. You are God -- isn't it enough to say that? Maybe for some, but not for him. So I start by telling him, you are the one who created the universe, including him. It's just a start, but right away, he wants to know, did you create just Earth? Did you create our solar system? What about other galaxies; do they have their own gods? I tell him, I don't think so, that it's all yours. You created it all. Then he askes again, but who is God?

I start telling him about Jesus. Who's Jesus? he says. Jesus is God's Son, I say. What does that mean? he wants to know. Memory flashbacks of seminary discussions on christology fill my mind. It means that he is God, but in a human form that came to live on earth. I tell him about Christmas and Easter (amazing that he doesn't know what these days are about). Even while I'm talking, I know that this is a bit much for a brief conversation with a fifteen year old. Finally he stops me, and says to forget all that, he just wants to know who God is.

I tell him it takes a lifetime just to start answering that question, but he responds by saying, Come on, you're supposed to know the answer, it's what you do. I wonder, how much do I really know? I wonder, of the things I do know, could it be that I'm afraid to say them out loud, or even to myself? How can I be so unsure? So much mystery, so much uncertainty, so much that doesn't make sense. Seminary professors make it sound like it's all supposed to fit together systematically, in one nice tight theological package, complete with a bow and ribbon; but it doesn't, at least not for me. Is this the answer I give to a fifteen year old?

I need you to speak through me, God, because so often I don't know what to say. I don't even know what to think half the time. I can't even tell a fifteen year old who you are in a way that he will understand.

I'm dependent on you, God, to do what I cannot do. I am weak. But you are strong.

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