I wonder if we as Christian geeks are sometimes more comfortable with God as an idea than as a person.
Granted, God is so unfathomable in so many ways that it’s easy for us to slip into thinking of him more conceptually than personally. But it can also easily become our preference to keep him at a distance.
Many of us geeks are highly introverted. We often prefer isolation from people, who can so easily interfere with our lives. People aren’t “safe“ to be around. Don’t we often think the same about God? But Jesus came because God didn’t want to be merely a distant concept in the minds of his people. Yet that’s what he became, as perhaps best explored in the New Testament book of Hebrews.
The book of Hebrews is written primarily to a Hebrew audience, who would have grown up in what had become a rigid, sterile religion shaped by cold academic law. In the opening verses of chapter 1, the author immediately demonstrates how Jesus has ushered in a way of relating to God that is superior to the law and even prophets in the past. Jesus, more than a prophet, has a unique relationship to God—that of a Sons is entitled to ownership of the universe. More than that, Jesus is somehow also God himself, and is actually the agent through whom the universe was created (Hebrews 1:2)!
Verse 4 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (ESV). Just as the radiance of the sun is inseparable from the sun itself, and presents us with a clear image of the sun, Jesus is inseparable from God. He is the radiance and the perfectly accurate visible representation of God.
But make no mistake. He is not just a representative. He is God himself. In fact, he’s responsible, at every given moment, for the continued existence of the universe! Science eventually fails to explain why the laws of the universe continue to hold reality together. One step beyond science is the answer: Jesus himself holds the laws of physics together, keeping them consistent and in operation by a continual act of his will.
If God ever seems too big and distant to us, unrelatable in his “otherness,” we can turn to Jesus, knowing that when we look at his personality, we’re not seeing some junior representation of God. We’re seeing God himself.
And Jesus came to enable relationship between us and God. This is portrayed later when Jesus is called our “high priest” in Hebrews 4: 14–16: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
In ancient Israel, the high priest was ultmately responsible for acting as a “go-between” for God and his people. Now, in Jesus, God himself is taking on that role, essentially saying “I don’t want to have some messenger running back and forth between us. Let’s just you and I talk from now on.”
These passages from Hebrews lead me to think about my “connectedness to God” a bit.
If I want to, I can stay pretty detached from God. Part of the way I’m wired as a geek makes it enjoyable to evaluate ideas on a purely intellectual level. This is also a much safer way to evaluate ideas when compared to letting them stew in my heart for awhile. I can read Scripture and say in my best impression of Mr. Spock: “Fascinating.” I can come away from this, smugly satisfied that I pursued examination of truth, without ever allowing that truth to get inside me and challenge, comfort, or encourage me.
Yahweh has never wanted that kind of disconnection from himself. Jesus came to say, “All of these things you’ve heard about me from angels and prophets are not just nice ideas for you to consider or dismiss. But that’s what you have been doing, so I came here myself to tell you who I am, how much I love you, and prove with my actions everything I’m saying.”
If we find ourselves distanced from God, we can draw near to him again by spending time with the words of Jesus. We can of course choose to remain cold toward him. Or we can give his words the value they deserve, allowing them to take us into uncomfortable revelations about ourselves while also providing relief and encouragement in light of his tireless love for us.