Firstly, there is the way I drive when I'm on my own. Secondly, there's the way I drive with passengers. In fact, there's a third variation, which depends on who the passengers are.
It all got me thinking back to something I wrote in a book a few years back. The book covered some events in my life when I had broken my neck in a cycling accident. I was going through a fair amount of soul searching, when I had this conversation with myself.
“What would your day look like if you spent it in Joel’s company? (Joel is a senior pastor at Hillsong church. I say senior but he’s younger than me.) I realized, that the way I was living, my actions and conversation would be radically altered. Not that I was living a sin filled life, or that my speech was particularly profane, it just wasn’t what it could be. I, wasn’t who I could be.Then this happened. (I’ll try to write it so you get the two simultaneous thoughts that ran through my head.)
It would be almost as if God was with you . . . (You idiot God is with you) . . . the whole day."
(Excerpt from "I am Broken" by Leo Sandy. Available as an e-book on Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook.)
Which brings me to ask. Where have we placed God? Where do we see him?
Is God remote, a disembodied spirit? Do we think of him as only being in heaven, sitting on a throne?
Do we really believe that he has a vital interest in our day to day waking life?
Because it seems as though a lot of us live with exactly these kinds of misconceptions.
Philosophical thinking would have us reduce God to an idea, nothing more than an abstract notion.
A set of noble ideals to aspire to. Certainly not a personal God that seeks after relationship, dialogue and involvement.
It's kind of like how we drive our cars when we can "see" that Police Car. But once it's gone, the law becomes reduced to an abstract ideal. We know the law exists, but because we don't see the agents of enforcement in our presence. It gets cast aside.
Wait. Am I suggesting that we don't consider God to be present, and that we have cast him aside from our conscious thinking? In many ways, yes.
My analogy of the police car serves us well here. Because we tend to forget the presence of the law, when we forget the presence of the agent.
I believe we've settled into a reductionist compartment view of God. God is in heaven. Jesus is up there too, because he ascended and took up residence in the throne room. As for Holy Spirit, well, where and what is he?
The Holy Spirit is God. In totality. It's a concept that our finite minds have trouble grasping, because we think in terms of solid objects. When we think of spirit, our thinking has been reduced by fairy tales and genies and such like, one thing in one place. Take it out of the bottle and put it back again.
But the Holy Spirit fills the whole earth.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10 NIV 2011.
David understood this idea of an all encompassing, ever present God. He knew, that God was always there. God is infinite and complete. It matters not wether we refer to him as; God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The name doesn't change the fact.
I think another part of the problem is with how we read a verse in Ephesians.
". . .the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption . . ."
Ephesians 1: 13b-14a. NIV 2011
That verse, when misread, becomes completely reductionist. We reduce the Holy Spirit to a "bit" of God. The KJV uses the word "earnest", which means a down payment.
Here's the problem. You can't cut God into pieces. God is infinite, without beginning or end.
Even if you were able to separate something infinite into component parts, each part would still be infinite. Because that is its inherent nature. (Now while you get your head around that, let me assure you. I have checked this with a friend, whose has degrees in Mathematics. He says this is correct.)
Too many Christians I fear live their lives from exactly this viewpoint. They have a "bit" of God. They have a "bit" of his power, a "bit" of grace. When we have a small view of God, (and it is entirely possible to know God is infinite and still hold him in a small view) then other things take the centre of our view. God gets pushed out to the periphery, he becomes a fleeting shadow.
We are not meant to live out our Christian lives as if God is only present some of the time. Only accessing His presence when we need it, or when we remember. God is meant to be fully seen, not just glimpsed at. This is why, when I had that moment with God, I realised that I was living "in part". I can't only live as a Christian among Christians.
We must live our lives in the fullness of the present, presence of God.
So, (if you will excuse me quoting from "The Cars") Who's going to drive you home tonight?