God is greater
It has been crazy weeks after our bishop Antje was chosen to be the next Archbishop of Sweden. A lot of people were happy about the decision, but others immediately started to accuse her of being vague and for marginalizing Christ. Some of the critique centered on the motto that Antje had chosen when she was ordained as a bishop in 2007 – “God is greater”. Suddenly there were a lot of conspiracy theories going around. Was Antje a Muslim? After all “God is greater” translates into Allahu Akbar which is a common Islamic expression. The whole thing reminded me of what happened when Barak Obama was elected president in the United States. Suddenly there were a lot of rumors going around that he wasn’t born in the USA and that he was a Muslim. Seems to me that whenever controversial decisions are made – a black man is elected president or a woman chosen to be the Archbishop of Sweden – some people feel a need to come up with alternative explanation as to why this could happen.
And no, Antje isn’t a Muslim. Her motto is taken from the New Testament – 1 Joh 3:20. It is true that if you translate this into Arabic it says Allahu Akbar simply because the Arabic word for God is Allahu. If you are an Arabic Christian and believe in the Christian God you believe in Allahu – it is as simple as that. So why did she chose this motto? She chose it because she wanted to underline the fact that God is always greater than anything we can perceive or imagine. For her it was a statement of humility. Of course some people found this to be offensive. Why couldn’t she give clear answers about God? Why was there always room for interpretations in everything she said? Wasn’t it the future Archbishops job to provide easy to understand answers about God and Christianity? But isn’t humility our only approach when it comes to God? After all there were plenty of people who missed out on the fact that Jesus was the Messiah they had waited for, because Jesus didn’t fit in with their picture of how the Messiah would be. To my mind, whenever we try to box God in and capture God in simple statements, we run the risk of losing sight of God. We start to believe in our own image of God instead of believing in GOD. And when we judge others because of their faith, we are really judging ourselves – if we are to believe Jesus. Just as Antje, I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior, but I also believe that God is greater, and because of that I try to be humble and not to judge others.