As a child, I wondered what God was like. I was told God was like Jesus. But I couldn’t see Jesus; neither could the artists who painted God and Jesus. They just made up what they looked like. I never got an answer to what God looks like, or what God sounds like.
All these years later young children ask me the same questions:
“What does God look like? What language does God speak? How do we know it’s God?”
Recently a kind of answer came while speaking with a neurosurgeon at a hospital in Ukraine.
Imagine you’re a fly on the wall in the neurosurgery floor of a hospital. All the patients have had, or will soon have, brain surgery. You observe the neurosurgeon make his daily rounds, going from room to room – just as you would expect anywhere in the world.
But this isn’t anywhere in the world. Something’s different here. This hospital is an embattled region on the eastern border of Ukraine… and the patients under this doctor’s care aren’t just any patients. Some of them are enemy soldiers. The patients are from both sides of the war.
One Russian soldier with a bullet still in his head occupies Room 401. Next door in Room 403 is a Ukrainian soldier, recovering from surgery. One speaks only Russian; the other speaks Russian and Ukrainian.
Like many other citizens in this city in the Donbass Region of Ukraine, the neurosurgeon speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian. He communicates equally well with the Russian and Ukrainian enemy soldiers.
The surgeon walks into the Russian soldier’s room. He greets him in Russian: “Dobroye utro [Good morning], Vladimir, how are you feeling this morning?”
“Khorosho” [Good], says Vladimir.
He goes next door to Room 403. He greets Alexei in Ukrainian: “Dobroho ranku, [Good morning] Alexei. How’s the headache this morning?”
“Ne take dobre!” [Not so good], says Alexei.
Both the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers trust that the doctor lives by a different code than the geopolitical code of conduct that has landed them – two former enemy combatants – in the same hospital next door to each other.
What does God look like? What language does God speak?
As Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama noted, God speaks more than one language. God speaks many languages. Maybe God looks and sounds like a multilingual brain surgeon making rounds in the war-zone hospital taking the bullets out of the heads of enemy combatants.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN 55318