We all dress God up in our own clothes. Clothes that we like the look of, clothes that are comfortable, clothes that represent where we’re from; our postcodes.
It is strange that these combinations of letters and numbers mean so much to me. Each postcode represents a specific geographical location, but also each postcode represents a specific place in time for me – periods of time that helped shape me and mould me.
What is your postcode? Can you remember your first postcode? What kind of memories do you have of the place where you grew up or the place where you live now?
People of faith formulate their own identity on an image of God that is largely cultural, nationalistic and localised. We see God through the lens of our background and our tradition. This is natural and lots of it is good, wholesome and worth celebrating. But unfortunately some of it is not good, some of it is tribal and some of it is mistaken.
Young adults are fed up with a “one day a week” faith. They can see through ritual and tradition that is not sincere or genuine.
In Protestantism we have thrown out symbols and embraced separatism. We have gotten rid of tokenism but treasured traditionalism. In Catholicism we have held on to our history and lost our children.
Why is it more difficult to remove a flag from Church than remove the cross? Why is it easier to spend large sums of money on a statue than real people in need?
Why do we continue to put what might have worked in the past over current revelation?
Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well. She gave him water – He gave her life. As followers of Jesus we know this story in John 4 so well. What I love about it most is that Jesus trusted the woman to go back to her own Samaritan village and tell everyone else about him. Samaritans and Jews hated each other over their beliefs. Jesus did not ask her to come to the Jewish synagogue and tell the Jews. He didn’t tell her to avoid her culture or heritage.
Jesus trusted that this new life the woman at the well had found could and should have the power and presence to speak wonderfully to any culture.
God is not a Catholic.
Jesus is not a Protestant.
Do we trust that God is bigger than our own culture and our own Christian heritage? Do we really trust that God can speak and move in “other traditions” or is it only our own tradition?
I sometimes wonder would my faith in God be the same if I was born in a different part of town, in a different postcode. Would God have spoken to me differently over there? Would he have spoken at all?
Would I have liked what I heard?
Will our default position always strive to manipulate and manoeuvre people to fit into our own spiritual clothes or do we trust that God can go way beyond our postcode faith?