For the last few months, I have had the desire to dig down through the current level of my faith to find the bedrock of what I believe. Like the geology of the Earth, our faith has layers. Some of us have assumed our current depth of understanding is the final layer – a place of arrival. It is too easy to park at these shallow depths and assume there is nothing more.
In my journey, I have been looking for Jesus. Not the Jesus limited to my history or my current level of experience, but a fresh encounter with Jesus who sits on a throne in Heaven in a place of unimaginable splendor above all the tricks and gimmicks of manmade religion.
In the process of my digging, I have come to realize what we believe can too easily be turned into a metaphor as a replacement definition for the real thing. Our metaphors for God can become like trees that blind us to the reality of the forest that stands before us.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a metaphor as "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” The word metaphor comes from the Greek word “metapherein” which means, “to transfer”.
When we use a descriptive metaphor in place of Jesus to describe Him or transfer the meaning of who He is into the form of a metaphor, a danger exists. What we are trying to define – the person of Jesus Christ – becomes a thing or an experience instead of a person. People who listen to us talk about the Lord can begin thinking the metaphors we use to describe Him are the complete truth about Him.
In our exploration of truth it is important to realize we are exploring the depths of a person who had no start date and who has no limits to His power and authority. How could we ever come to the end of a journey of discovery when we are exploring a person who existed before the beginning of all things? Strange theologies have been created by this kind of thinking.
Here is the reality of the one we are trying to communicate - “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1: 1-3
We are searching to discover the depths of a person who was present before a place called, The Beginning, came into being. In the beginning no human metaphors existed. Standing in that metaphor-free place was the fully complete and fully defined I AM. He needed nothing more to define Him. He was and is, the forever I AM – the same yesterday, today and forever.
This I AM is the uncluttered manifestation of Jesus the world needs to meet, but first, the Church needs to rediscover this pure image of Jesus. When that revelation takes place all our definitions and metaphors about Him will pale in comparison to His raw and beautiful revelation. In that moment our mission and our worship will undergo a dramatic and radical change. That change will define a new reformation within the Church and the beginning of a reformation within culture.