Doing God

No. 60 - 03rd December 2017

Last year, Alastair Campbell, the one time Press Secretary to Tony Blair, wrote a very touching article about the death of what he called his funny, loving, schizophrenic, big brother Donald. Donald had been suffering from schizophrenia for most of his life, and the treatment finally got to him. Alistair was obviously distressed by his passing and among other things wrote about Donald’s wonderful skill on the bagpipes and his faith which had been a real comfort to him through the years. Alistair implied that he himself doesn’t do God… which is an interesting way of putting it, because God certainly ‘does’ Alastair Campbell and is fully aware of what’s going on.

Having talked about the Reformation for the last five weeks, what came out most clearly was God’s connection with the world, and his passionate desire to be involved in our lives. I remember once reading a quote where someone had painted on a wall the words, “God is dead” signed Nietzsche. Then someone else came along and added the words, “Nietzsche is dead” signed God. Nietzsche was a German philosopher who very much embraced the notion that God is dead and has no more relevance to our culture. I’m not a fan of his.

There’s a story in the New Testament about a rather short man, a tax collector, who wanted to see the one everyone was talking about. He had heard that Jesus was passing through the town, so he climbed up into a tree to get a better view over the heads of all the people lining the street. Then as Jesus was passing the tree, he suddenly stopped, looked up into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus” that was the little man’s name. “Quick, Zacchaeus, come down because I’m going to be a guest in your home today”. Well, the little man nearly fell out of the tree with surprise. How did Jesus even know his name? I’m telling you, that encounter was a life changer for Zacchaeus. Up to that point he didn’t ‘do’ God, but was astonished to discover that God knew every little detail about him. Jesus once said that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” which is a rather nice way of saying that I am known intimately by God. Now that’s either exciting or deeply disturbing. Either way, there’s no getting around it. Personally, I find it very comforting.

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