Archives For peace

Sweden-Roadtrip-Day-1-Fjallbacka-19

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” Michel de Montaigne

Don’t judge me, but the other night when there was nothing else on TV, I fired up 4oD and watched the first episode of Scandimania, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest venture.

I’ve been keen to visit Scandinavia for a while now and honestly, I thought an hour in front of a harmless cookery programme with nice scenery would be pretty easygoing.

Then something surreal, and then profound, happened. Hugh – that’s right: eccentric, wonderfully British Hugh – met with Björn Ulvaeus, one of the members of Swede synth sensations ABBA. Out of that coming together of two people you’d never put in the same room, I found myself thinking about humility.

Why? Lagom.

***

Lagom is a Swedish word that, as Björn explained, doesn’t really have an English equivalent. It’s one of those times when the English language doesn’t quite have the depth that so many other languages have. The closest it seems we can get in English when it comes to lagom is ‘just enough’.

More than just a word, for Swedes it signifies a way of life – a recognition that excess is often dangerous, that there is usually just the right amount of something to be had, that any more or any less is a waste.

Lagom.

***

Lagom got me thinking. Because for a long time, humility has been something I’ve struggled with. It seems that being humble is deeply ironic because the minute we think we’ve done well at being humble, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. (That’s an over-exaggeration, of course). I want to be humble for many reasons, not least because it’s Biblical (see Luke 14:11 and more), but also because living humbly is a beautiful, counter-cultural thing. But to this point, I haven’t quite found a way to work out what humility looks like.

It’s not putting myself down, lamenting my shortcomings, highlighting my deficiencies. Equally, it’s not bragging about how good I am, how much I’ve prayed lately, how many people read my articles.

It’s just enough. It’s recognition that we have God-given talents and should use them and take pride in them, because we are using them for God. But at the same time it’s realising that what we have comes from God, and that our place before him is a humble one, where we lay down our lives for others and for God.

Lagom. Just enough.

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Over-complicating God

September 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

God is pretty complex. There’s a lot to him. After all, he made the universe and everything in it, knows the numbers of hairs on each of our heads, and knows what has been, what is, and what will be.

The Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists in perfect harmony, is the same but different.

Frankly, I don’t really get it.

I did a theology degree, and took modules in how to understand God, and I still don’t.

Sometimes, this frustrates me. I want to be able to logically formulate why God loves me, and why he forgives me. I want to find some theologians who back me up, academics who I can name-drop when I need to. I don’t know if it’s because I sometimes find it hard to fathom God’s love, but I find myself trying to produce a formula to prove it.

God = creator. Jesus = creator’s son. Spirit = creator’s presence on earth now. (I’ve probably said some heresies already). God loves us. You. Me. Jesus died for us. The Spirit came for us. God + love + Jesus + his death + coming of the Spirit = salvation.

That’s not even close.

***

I think I spend too much time trying to explain and understand God, and not enough time enjoying him and loving him.

There’s no doubt there is a time and a place for trying to understand God, for theology and exegesis and picking apart the story of Jesus.

Ultimately, however, I think God wants us to love him. Wants us to believe his promises, to trust him, to shelter in his grace.

Sometimes, it’s that simple. The life we get in return isn’t always easy or straightforward. More often than not, it’s the opposite.

But through it all, God reminds us of his love, and longs for us to love him with all we have.

His message to me, and to all of us, is simple.

I have done, and will do, anything for you. You are my child. Take shelter in me. I love you.

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“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it – what God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9, The Message