Does God have veins?
A young boy in church asked his mother, “Does God have veins?” She asked me what I thought, what answer would I give? I am often asked unexpected questions, but even then, I was not expecting this one.
But it is a good question. What do we think of whenwe think of God?
I go back to Exodus 20, it is very specific.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness ofanything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that isin the water under the earth.
Nowhere in a synagogue will there be images, the same is true of a mosque, yet Christian art is littered with images representing God. Is this a problem? Well I think it might be.
Is there a tendency to anthropomorphise God? I certainly remember that, as a child, I thought of God as a wise old bearded man sitting in a big chair in heaven surrounded by clouds of angels as he looked benignly down on the creation. Looking back, I am not sure this image was helpful. For me, in this image there is the danger of a “Wizard of Oz” type of God who has all the answers, and sorts things out; one who has all the answers and controls the universe.
This leads to questions about the power of God and limits to the power of God. Questions like, “How can an all powerful God allow suffering?” are often asked. This is a long and complicated subject. The study of these problems is called Theodicy and leads to statements like this:
“If evil and suffering exist, then God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good. Since evil and suffering obviously do exist, we are led to the conclusion that “God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good.””
I am not sure this image is helpful either. It leads me to ask if we see God as an external being, or is the relationship more intimate? I ask this question because Moses saw God in the burning bush, Elijah (1 Kings 20:12) saw God in “the sound of a light breeze”, or a “low whisper”. We read of God speaking to the prophets, but the nature of God at these times is never developed. God doesn’t appear to take on form. Although I am sure that there are passages in the Bible that challenge this.
The warning in the Ten Commandments cautions us so that even in our own mind’s eye, we need to be careful how we see God. We need to be careful not to create an idol in our thinking.
Where and how do we see or experience God? Jesus tells us that where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be in the midst of them. Would it therefore be reasonable to suggest that God is evident in relationship? Is it that God exists in the space between people? When we argue with each other, are we pushing God out of the relationship, when we should be welcoming God into the relationship. We are all part of God’s creation and made in his image, so should we see each other through the eyes of God?
If we accept what we read in 1 John 4:7-9, maybe we need to look again at how we respond to God’s love. We read:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his onlySon into the world, so that we might live through him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
So getting back to the original question leads to much thought and new questions, but not an answer. I still need to know how do we explain God to our children?