No language can exist without symbols. Letters, speech, brail and sign language all require some sort of medium or form to transfer information. Symbols vary from age to age, culture to culture, family to family, person to person, but everyone uses them if they want to be a part of a society. Whether it’s out of apathy or resentment, language barriers form when we give up learning the symbols of “the other.”
Covert God is the attempt to break through these barriers by speaking a common language–the language of Story. It transcends cultures and transforms worldviews and relationships, and I’m inclined to believe it’s the language of God.
Stories are everywhere, and in that way God sneaks his way into our lives by constantly reminding us that our lives have a plot, a conclusion, and a character to develop.
This belief is no new theology; God has always been covert, talking through visions, prophets, and parables because our stubbornness requires such tactics. His most covert move yet was coming as a man. This man, Jesus Christ, forever changed the world.
A hunter needs a disguise before the prey is within range of his arrow, and God needs to be covert before we can be close enough to hear his language. Whispers are often more effective than shouts, and parables, songs and images are often more effective than facts or arguments. Yes, arguments have their place in the same way a frame has its place in focusing a image, but what matters is the image and its subject.
God’s language is uncomfortable–painful, even, like the arrows of a hunter. But his arrows aim at something dark inside. Something that needs to go before we can really love. We don’t even have to believe in God to know love is hard, but we all want it regardless. We want it, and God wants us to want it.
“Where is God?” many ask, but I believe he’s not the one who needs to be found. We’re the ones who are lost in the dark, and he’s the one with the light. A careful tactic is required for skittish creatures lost in the dark, and that’s why I believe we need his sleight of hand to fool us for our own good.
Jesus may be the one way to God (John 14:6), but there is by no means one way to Jesus. I pray we all feel our way towards him (Acts 17:27), relishing the symbols through which our dark hearts can embrace him.