Put on your coloured glasses. Oh, you already have them on!
The cultural, spiritual and physical context of when and where we live combined with the education we receive from that culture create the lenses through which we see God, how we read the Bible and how we think of our fellow humans.
This has always been true of humanity. Just like us, in Old Testament times, they defined God and their relationship with God through the lenses created by their world. And when they wrote it down, they wrote it with those lenses on - believing they were seeing clearly. When we read it, we read through our lenses. Learning about their lenses and trying them on when reading the Bible will help us understand them and their writing.
But understanding God takes a lot more than the right glasses! We believe we can now see God clearly because of Jesus. Hogwash! God had work done - a lot of work! - before he showed up as Jesus. It's called the incarnation. God went through a massive transformation - gestation in a human womb, childhood in a Palestinian village, indoctrination in an Israelite community, all with a teenage mum and and tradie dad - so he could be one with us. He was still God, but cloaked in humanity and locked in a historical context. He came as close to being one of us as was divinely possible.
Perhaps he did too good of a job. He spent much of his ministry saying, "How long have I been with you and still don't understand who God is?" Even after Jesus died, came back to life and was about to be slurped up to Heaven, "Some of them still doubted" (Matt 28:17). That's just the way of us humans. Our lenses only allow so much to be true!
So, if you have trouble understanding God - join the club. He doesn't expect us or require us to understand him. The epic narrative of Biblical scripture repeatedly shows that God wants us to know one thing - God loves us. He said it over and over and they wrote it down in their language. Then he showed up looking strangely familiar and showed us with his words, actions, death and resurrection. God is Love. God loves you. God created you as a creature of love - to love and be loved. Can you see it?
For God (spiritual lens)
so loved (relational lens)
the World (cosmological lens)
that He (patriarchy lens)
gave (monetary lens)
His (gender lens)
one & only (eggs in one basket lens!)
Son (family lens)
whoever (inclusivity lens)
believes (faith lens)
in Him (trust lens)
will not die (fear lens)
but have (identity lens)
eternal life (hope lens)