There is an age old story of a group of blind folded scientists who stand around an elephant and by touching it begin to describe what it is that is before them.
One scientist speaks up – its really hairy, very bristly, and its skinny like a snake. It moves a lot too and it smells really bad.
Another speaks up – Yeah but its also really hard, almost like wood. And its long and tapers on the end until OW… theres a pointy sharp bit on the end, this is a very destructive thing whatever it is.
Around the other side a soft spoken doctor speaks – its so soft, almost like you could sleep in it like a blanket. It feels leathery, like a wing.
A scientist that was standing timidly to the side was listening and he had come up with a picture in his mind of a soft, spikey, winged battle animal designed for destruction and sleep.
This story is often used to illustrate the illusive nature of truth. When we take only little bits in, or are not looking, but feeling truth. Then the truth of the elephant gets lost in the details of its ears and tail.
The story also quickly illustrates how different people have different perspectives on the elephant. Like preference in taste and experiential negativity, the wing-like ear becomes a blanket, an implement of safety as opposed to a bats wing, an implement of terror.
But the truth is, when they take off their blind folds and walk around it somewhat the scientists find its an elephant. A creature of great power. A creature of great beauty. When in bite sized chunks the elephant becomes something completely different.
I believe this story to be an incredibly good parable of the worlds interaction with God, in a myriad of ways.
God is great and powerful. He is greatly beautiful and large and complicated and impossible for our human minds to take in completely. Because of our individual experiences with life and God we flock to the ears or the tusks or the tail. We relate to parts of God more then others. We think about them more, we study them more we talk about them more. But on the other side of the “elephant” our brothers and sisters in life are doing similarly for a different part of God.
This can also be seen when looking at the trinity. Many of our denominational divisions have been set up subtly because we sit down at the feet at one of the members of the trinity more then the others. Those of us that have sat down at the feet of Jesus are very hands and feety. We get out on the street and tell the world of our saviour, we attempt to meet the needs of the needy, be company for the lonely, speak out against the Pharisees of the world. We are almost foot soldiers in an army of good and peace.
Those of us who sit down at the feet of the holy spirit are filled with a holy power. We seek the supernatural parts of God, the mysterious, the amplification of the strangest of the trinity brothers. We see healings, we speak in strange languages, we spend times soaking and getting more lord.
Those of us that sit at the feet of the father can sometimes compartmentalize ourselves into one of three different faces of the father. The misunderstanding of looking at the father without the son. We see the violence of the old testament God as evil itself, not the dealing with evil, we see him like islamics do – a relationally retarded God who spoke once but who is now mute. We see the father through his beautiful heart of the prodigal son, one that runs out to us and embraces us – forgetting the lords holiness and only going for the cushy cushy-ness of our fathers love. And the third that sees the fathers – GODS WORD through the lifeless black and white pages of his scriptures. Words that are powerful and life giving but the words that can also be weapons in a war of being right. Our translation is better, our interpretation is better. The father becomes less relational and more like a statue that refuses to interact with us – spoke once and waits for something. We who sit at the feet of the father – ignoring the other two brothers can represent debaucherous community all the way up to a stoic survival of the fittest mentalities that attempt to destroy humanity
We have a creator who has left his fingerprints everywhere, like the sloppiest criminal who strangely enough wants to be caught. Wants people to point at him and yell ‘Its that guy, he created this’’ God isn’t secretive about his creation. The depth of his ideas is boldly painted across every wide screen television sale in the world. The documentary series Planet Earth could easily be renamed ‘God is a freakishly good creator’.
The consequences of having a creator means our truth needs to come from them. Etc etc blah blah…. (attention span fail)