In a class this semester, we were asked to write a short blurb about our theological convictions. The catch was that it had to be an “Elevator Talk.” Think of it this way. Imagine you get into an elevator and punch the button for your floor. It’s a pretty big building and it’ll take a couple of minutes to get there. There’s someone else in the elevator – a stranger perhaps – and they ask you about your faith. What do you say before the elevator stops?
Here’s what I wrote:
I believe in the God of the “Omnis”: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all that stuff. I believe that God created the world out of love, and that God’s love continues to inspire creation and creativity in the world today. I believe that God calls out to all of creation and that as members of creation we may or may not choose to respond.
While ancient texts speak of this God as one who told people that they would get wealth and power if they were faithful, I think God later changed the deal. Why? In my mind, it’s because people changed and God was paying attention. So God sent Jesus, someone I think of as both completely divine and completely human. Jesus taught in ways that most people weren’t used to, using engaging stories and speaking in a way that people could really understand. He told stories and gave examples. He used plain language and he met people where they were. And his message was clear: love each other.
While a lot of people appreciated this, the people in power got uptight. They saw this kind of teaching as a threat. So they arrested him, they tortured him, and they executed him. And yes, I think he rose from the dead in a supernatural way. I suppose it was that whole completely divine thing…
Since that time, humanity has spent a great deal of time trying to come to terms with Jesus’ teachings and the way he related to people. In an effort to tell the stories and share the experiences, I think it turned in some ways to that old game of “telephone” I played in Jr. High. It’s that game where one person whispers a secret into another person’s ear, and that person passes it on to the next, and it goes on that way along a bunch of people. Then at the end, you usually learn that the last person got a different message than the one that was intended. It’s because language can be vague and we have a tendency to try to optimize. So am I saying that the message has gotten corrupted? In some ways, yes. I think it has. Do I think we’ve lost it completely? Nope. Not even close.
So the journey I’m on is about finding that message for myself. It’s about discovery and the ongoing sense of wonder. It’s about sharing my ideas and what I’ve found and about listening when other share their own experiences, and about growing through that process.