Talking about how Christians make such a mess of living with difference and diversity in their understanding of their faith, a very good friend once remarked, "The way you relate to people demonstrates your conception of God."
Those who prefer conflict to reconciliation and argument to dialogue; those who see gentleness as weakness; those for whom openness to revision of thought is called compromise, and theological peacemaking is the culpable surrender of perma-fixed dogma; those who think certainty means the same as faith; those who believe that humanly framed theological propositions can be relied on to adequately express the mystery of sovereign self-emptying love as revealed in Jesus Christ; those whose standpoint is on that kind of terrain will have one kind of God.
But it will be hard to square that God with the God revealed and made known in Jesus Christ; the One in whom God was and is reconciling the world to himself; in whom the fulness of God was pleased to dwell in bodily form, in whom the Father who blesses all peace-makers as God's children is finally and definitively revealed; this God whose defining nature is love, and whose love is defined by the Cross.
I find this argument utterly compelling, and biblical in the most profound and searching sense of that often abused adjective - biblical. Amongst my theological and biblical ambitions (can you have such things?), for the next six months is to immerse myself in Colossians, that unparalleled exploration of what it is Christians claim when they confess, "Jesus is Lord!" - and in doing so bow in adoration before the One who is "the image of the invisible God..in whom all the fullness of God dwelt bodily", and the One through whom "God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things in heaven and on earth, making peace through the blood of his cross."
The remarkable sculpture which illustrates this post is by Lyn Constable Maxwell. It was commisioned in 1994 and is titled ‘The
Crucified and Risen Christ’. It adorns All Saints Pastoral Centre,