Theology is simple. It comes from the Greek words ‘theos’ and ‘logos’ – God and words. Theology is words about God.
If you have something to say about God, you’re a theologian—even if all you want to say about God is that He’s a man-made idea, created by weak people to find hope in a crisis or by strong people to control the weak through fear and intimidation.
Words are important. But they’re limited. They’re like pictures in frame that capture one dimension of reality but can’t mirror the multi-dimensional experience of actually being there.
For a long time, God spoke to people with words that were spoken, written, read and listened to: pictures in frames that were too small to capture the reality of God. But it was never His intention to depend on words to reveal His nature. For that purpose, He gave us a child.
The Word became flesh*
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.**
That’s good theology. It reveals the ironic thing about theology: that words are not enough to describe the fullness of God. You need to put a face to the Name. It was always God’s intention to give us more than merely words. He wanted to show us His face. At the first Christmas, we saw it in Jesus.
His face showed us what we we were meant to look like; what we were meant to live like.
A poem is made up of words, but it is not merely words. A song is made up of notes, but it is not merely notes. A man is made up of molecules, but he is not merely molecules.
It’s true: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But our parts are scattered. We are lost and estranged, constantly trying to find the words—in songs, stories, film and fiction—to describe our decadence. But only one word matters and it is not even a word. It is the Word become flesh.
The face of God, visible in a Child, who became a Man, lived among men and died for all men, so that we would live for Him.
Good theology feeds the soul, nourishes the mind, lifts the heart and gives strength to the body. All the things a healthy relationship has proven to do for people.
There is no greater theology than a relationship because there is no greater life than the one that flows from a relationship with our Maker. When God and man were not on speaking terms, it was the sky that broke the silence.
In a time of political oppression, to a people without power, God sent an angel and promised them the birth of a Saviour. The time had come for a wound to be healed.
God and man would no longer be strangers separated by religion. The time for peace had come; and it was God who took the initiative: no longer with words alone, but with a Person.
Shepherds were invited. Rulers were confused. Wise men were curious and Cattle were witnesses, at the birth of Christ. When God decided to come into the world, He came in through the backdoor and chose to live in the servant’s quarters.
Everything about Jesus rebukes the trite words we use to describe God. Through Him, we know that God doesn’t use religion to exploit the poor, justify violence, condemn the outcast and oppress the marginalised.
Through Him, we find our purpose: The Word wants to become flesh again. Not in His Child, but in His children.
To resonate with the spirit of Christmas is to be sons and daughters of God, so that His face can be seen in us again: not with words that reveal the folly of man, but with faces that reflect the glory of God.
This is Christmas: that Christ revealed to us the face of God, that we may turn our faces to Him and that our faces might reflect the glory of God, for all the world to see.
Image Credit: Meg