I imagine a world where God had skin. How would that work out? No doubt it would be a world no different from the world I have already come to know. This world would have the usual power struggles, the resource wars, the self-serving politics, the disillusionment, the delusion, the strife, the ego, and the hypocrisy.
But God had skin. That's the difference. Whether it would be a crucial difference would depend on how God having skin would impact lives and the world at large. Yet, this difference cannot be ignored. It is not dismissible. It’s in-your-face. So, how would it all work out?
First, let me apply my imagination to the everyday reality. A God with skin would be like us in all appearances, materiality and tangibility. He would be standing beside me in the train, shopping mall and office, and I would be able to see Him in the flesh. And because skin is our largest organ and it is the body’s coat of our muscular/skeletal structure, I would also be able to see God taking a certain anthropological form.
God with skin would walk, eat, sleep and live amongst us. Of course, I must qualify that He is still God in every conceivable way. That means that He is no doubt omnipotent, omniscience and even omnipresent. The latter trait would be a stretch of my imagination since God having skin would be spatially or physically confined, but still God being God would somehow defy all human limitations and natural laws. He outsmarts space and time in his own signature ways. Maybe He teleports at will. Maybe He passes between different dimensions effortlessly. Maybe He freezes time and bends reality or perception. Or maybe He travels through wormholes He conjures up by a snap of his finger. My imagination can only go so far and there will be gaping holes that cannot be satisfactorily filled. That I concede.
So, back to a God with skin, what can I then expect?
Well, I can expect the redundancy of faith. If faith is the substance/evidence of things hope for or not seen, then God having skin would retire faith for good. Faith would thus serve no purpose except as a historical religious footnote. Of course, this would be difficult for believers at the start. They would not be able to imagine believing without faith or hoping for something that is standing just inches before them. Such initial discomfiture is understandable. What we were accustomed to would have to be religiously unlearned.
But nevertheless, I do not foresee the learning curve to be steep. It would in fact be more of an astonishment of the natural senses than the recalibration of the religious senses. The wonders of a God with skin would leave many stumped, speechless; at least that would be the initial reaction.
Imagine this same God I have been worshipping appearing before me in the same way my earthly father would walk into my life on an occasional visit. Imagine me having to look at my heavenly father and our eyes meet and I see his lips literally moving and His body language engaging mine. Imagine further the sovereign Creator of the Universe smiling at me, encouraging me, consoling me, and even reprimanding me when I err in my ways or stray from the disciplines in face-to-face contact. And imagine that He rests His hand on my shoulder, pats my back, embraces me, and occasionally plays with me like an earthly father would play with his son. No more still small voices. No more prophetic visions. No more sensing in the spirit. No more declaring to an unwitting crowd that I felt His presence. No more of all that!
And while the scripture says that it is impossible to please Him without faith, I guess this would make it an exception to the rule where faith as a spiritual midwife would be replaced fully by our natural senses.
I guess the trade off (faith for a visible God) would not make us believe Him less or doubt Him more. Belief is made quite irrelevant. For in the same way that I do not doubt my wife's existence, where then is the doubt of His?
God having skin would be the ultimate metanarrative personified and I suspect it would cause a revival of some sort where the staunchest atheists, humanists and secularists would have to reassess their position completely. The tables would be turned against them. Their skepticism would have to make way for some existential reflection. Even agnostics would have to jump off the fence they have been straddling on and throw their lot in on the side of the grand mystery of life and universe.
But then, right at this moment, this thought experiment led me to Calvary where God did have skin. His body was hung on the Cross. His skin was torn to shreds. His suffering was magnified many times not so much because He had skin but because of His undying love. What was invisible became visible and what was visible was crucified in a public specter. God died for His creation. No doubt a historical fact minus the delusional declaration – so raves the skeptics.
And there and then, my spirit came to this crossroad of faith: What if the real difference is not so much whether God had skin or not, but whether we would believe and continue to believe in Him if He had skin? For if the human heart is above all deceitful, will the novelty of a God with skin soon fade off when humanity reassert their right to rule in their own way and for their own gain? Will the difference, no doubt mind-blowing at first, give way to a routine blasé-ness, which then turns into a mindless rebellion that brings humanity to the all-too-familiar place where they first started? Will the difference aroused by a God with skin turn into cold indifference over time?
And if history has shown us anything, it is this: men may have seen God with skin as their own at first but they nevertheless treated Him not as their own. They saw Him as a threat. They left Him without mercy. They disowned Him outright. They rejected Him. Given enough latitude, humanity would even usurp the place of the omnipotence. Our deluded chutzpah is our eventual downfall.
The only redemption is therefore not about putting on an exterior skin but it is in experiencing an internal transformation, that is, a heart that places its faith on things unseen. This would of course leave a world groaning in doubt and skeptics mocking endlessly, but at least it would be a world where the tyranny of the material would not rule with an absolute iron hold.
Alas, my imagination crashed at this moment as I return to a world governed by faith, a sense made redundant only by my blind faith in humanity. Cheerz.