Most of us grew up with a Greek/Western approach to theology. By Greek/Western I mean that we are very comfortable using words that are organized in a logical progression to explain our beliefs.
An example of this would be:
We would then give flesh to these bones by describing, in detail, what each of those statements about God means.
I was recently reminded that the culture Jesus lived in was entirely different. They opted for pictures and images over systematic, logical arrangements of propositions.
Remember Jesus words to the crowds in Matthew 6:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [TNIV]
Jesus wants to explain to his audience the reality of God’s care and provision for them. Notice how he does it. Not with bullet points or systematic theology. But with images of birds and flowers.
When the Psalmist wants to speak of God’s strength, he speaks of God as his “rock.”
Images convey what words can’t.
So, here’s a question that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, and I would love for you to join me.
If you were handed a blank canvas and asked the question, “Who is God to you?”, and you couldn’t use any words, what would you paint?