The BIG picture
Here I try (briefly) to explain my limited understanding of the impossible as referred to in the introductory page to this site - establish what it's all about. This is not the ultimate "truth". If I have learned anything in more than 60 years, it's that any of us can only ever grasp a tiny bit of "truth". As I learn more my understanding will change - but here's my brief summary of the big picture as I understand it now. If you want to know more about how this truth relates to aspects of life by a mind far greater than mine, see some interesting views by CS Lewis or NT Wright.
Time and space did not exist - so how do we even start to describe that situation? What we know is at some "time" God said ... and things came into being. Now, this begs a question: when God spoke, to whom was he speaking? I don't have a good understanding of this - but I'm starting to understand a wee bit more of the Trinity. When we understand we are created in His image, part of that is that we communicate with Him and with each other - just as he does within the Trinity.
Communication is on a totally different level within the Trinity - perhaps something beyond a Vulcan mind-meld - beyond comprehension. When men recorded the Bible they only had words they knew to use - so for example "heaven" is thought of as "up". And we all know how hard King James English is to understand. It's not just words that can be hard to translate - it's whole mindsets. For example translators of the Bible do so with the Greek mindset that is the Western way - Plato and Aristotle would understand. But the old testament was written before them - and the new testament was written by people brought up with a different way of thinking.
That's a difficulty I have in getting my head around this. Things existed/happened and all we can do is try and describe them with words which may well have different meanings. One example is judge. We have a picture of someone (usually with a wig) who is an expert in law. Read the book of Judges and you won't find such a person.
Back to the beginning - when God created man - in his own image. Among other things He made him be creative - as He was. They talked - as God talked with others after that. Most discussions aren't recorded - but we know He talked with Cain after he'd killed his brother. I would suggest (though it's obviously not recorded) He talked with everyone as they went about their lives.
As time went on, people became less comfortable talking with God. Possibly they felt uncomfortable talking with God when they knew what they were like on the inside. Eventually, the Jewish religion came into being. Certain people were given responsibility for dealing with God on behalf of "ordinary" people.
Then God came to earth as Jesus. He changed things totally, providing the way for imperfect humans to approach the perfect God. He obviously said a lot, some of which is recorded - but much more isn't. After His time on earth, followers of Jesus took the gospel across the world - despite persecution of various sorts.
Constantine started a major change by making Christianity the religion of the state. This is sometimes thought of as a big step forward - but what he started was pagan, couched in terms which followers of Jesus would relate to. Interestingly Patrick's (probably a Jew) Celtic church has quite a different history from the impressions I had and avoided the influence of the pagan church for roughly the same time as the church grew before being "domesticated" by Constantine.
As the Jews had developed a religion to come between them and God, so also followers of Jesus fell into the same trap. That's not to say all followers lost all sight of their God at all times, but you only have to look at things like the Spanish Inquisition, or the troubles in Northern Ireland, to see how far from God people can become in the name of "religion".
Even in times of darkness, the love of God comes through. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is just one example. While much of the church sided with Hitler, Bonhoeffer stayed faithful, even though it meant he died before the war ended. There are many other examples like this. It doesn't mean that they were always right all of the time - just that they were true to the understanding they had of God.
What's more interesting to me is what has happened when the "church" fails to present God's view. This happens in many situations - the slave trade, apartheid, the Treaty of Waitangi and so on. It doesn't take scholarly research to realise that God is very interested in justice. So when His people are on the side of injustice, what does He do?
From my position, it would be so easy for Him to step in and "solve" the problem. But He has given humans the world (although His enemies often try and persuade us they are in charge) - and it's our responsibility. As I am slowly learning to understand Him a bit more, I believe He lets His message be responded to by anyone who will listen - whether they acknowledge Him or not. Sadly as less than perfect humans, solving one problem doesn't mean the future is all rosy. We have only to look at the examples above to see that even when the initial injustice is solved, all is not rosy.
So where are we today? We have lost so much reality in the past - but God has been restoring things for some time, and it seems at an increasing rate. And this is happening not so much as a big thing through "big" people - but through a series of "little" things through lots of ordinary people. And love - real love as opposed to modern concepts - is key to it all. God longs for each one of us to spend time talking with Him.