“God is in the details” is a mantra that was popularized by the German-born American architect, Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of the Modernist Movement. As I worked my way through my architectural training, I certainly identified with the catchphrase. It’s been over a decade now, but I can still remember the comments by one the jurors of my final dissertation: “Your hardworking credentials are unquestionable; but your work lacks details.” This taught me a lesson in life: hard work and creating beautiful images are no substitutes for paying attention to the little things that matter.
The deeper I grow in my faith, the more I discover God in ordinary things I often take for granted. Following Jesus involves more than putting on my Sunday best and attending church religiously. Becoming a member of the property committee, or an active participant in church activities, does not build a strong foundation for my faith. Giving everything I have to the church is not the budget for building a strong relationship with God. Having a rigid prayer life does not make me merciful. Speaking about peace and dreaming about a world without conflict do not make me a son of God. Inspirational sermons and beautiful speeches do not provide me with the eye to see God.
When I strip away the aesthetics of beautiful sermons and active participation in church, I see the core of my relationship with God. Perhaps what reinforces my relationship with God is my ability to pay closer attention to my neighbours’ needs, read in between the lines, to see what support I can offer them or how best to share their loads. Perhaps I’m a peacemaker when I’m able to turn the other cheek and exercise restraint in conflicts. Perhaps, I draw closer to God whenever my negative attitudes shrink and my positive attributes become dominant. Jesus said, ‘…whatever you did for one of the least of these… you did for me.’ Perhaps he also meant to say, ‘you discover me when you pay attention to these details of ordinary life.’
Selorm Klu, originally from Ghana, attended St Chrysostom’s several years ago, and as well as being an architect is also now a Methodist local preacher in Salford.