Grass and other Idols

durer_large-turf2

This isn’t just any grass. This is a ground-breaking (excuse the pun) watercolour of grass painted over 500 years ago by Durer (my historical crush par excellence- such a Renaissance stud-muffin). It’s amazing, but totally fantastical. You could never see grass like this because every point of it is in perfect focus. Our vision just isn’t that good- we can focus on one area but the rest goes blurry.

Hebrews 12:1-2: Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Given our less than perfect vision, the implication is that in focusing on Jesus, we will become less fixated on, less devoted to, less idolising of, anything else that comes our way. Hence Jesus’ story of the two masters with reference to money. But in the place of money, you can put anything else that has a hold on our hearts. because it’s not like Durer’s Turf, and this isn’t football manager b-s after a game: we cannot give everything 150%.

 

Okay, so why give God everything we’ve got? I know that I first heard of God being ‘jealous’ via Richard Dawkins. Needless to say, I was not endeared by the prospect. If God was jealous, was He suffering from middle-child syndrome? Couldn’t he just sort out his own trust issues and be a bit more back-seat about it all? But God does not need our attention: the point of the Trinity being relational- with the Father loving the Son perfectly, and the Son loving the Holy Spirit perfectly and so forth until all the dots are joined up- is that God lacks nothing. It’s us that need God. A really popular way of putting it is to compare us with say a Windows PC and God with Bill Gates: Bill Gates knows his creation back to front, he knows how it should work, how it can be best used, and how to fix it when things come a-cropper. But let me suggest too that I think we can sense our own need to worship God. C.S. Lewis came to be convinced of the truths of Christianity because he could find no other reason for the joy he felt. And I wonder if you know anyone who has admitted to liking someone or having a baby more to have an object for their capacity for affection than because they were purely attracted to that person or had a baby as an expression of a couple’s already well-established love. It’s like we’ve got these impulses to love God and our neighbour, but, left to our own devices, we find it easier (more rewarding?) to project it onto folk around us. This is where my mum and I differ: for her, to love is the meaning of what it is to be human, and love is eternal. For me, to love God is what it is to be human, and only God’s love is eternal in a really meaningful sense.

The unsurprising personal context for this blog is my looming final exams. I know that if I honestly had my eyes fixed only on Jesus then I would be liberated from feeling obliged to impress people, to justify my place at Cambridge, to make sure my future was reasonably secure. It’s tough, I’m not going to pretend it’s as easy as putting on a pair of properly adjusted specs. But the weight of all those other imperatives on my shoulders does at least help me to see that giving God my all is not a millstone around my neck, it’s not God being needy. It’s actually freeing.

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