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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finding God in the world

So we live in a world where God is active, yet so much seems to happen based on human choice, the 'haphazard' unfolding of the laws of nature and what looks like blind luck. We hear people talk about 'God doing this' or 'God doing that' but much of the time it is not easy to make sense of any of it. So what is going on?

What is the world? I think it is a material, concrete physical construction. I also believe that "behind" the visible world there is a spiritual world. The spiritual world can only be known through analogy. This is vital. Analogies are "like" statements. They are "sort of the same but different." Analogies are needed when what we want to say is bigger or more complex or beyond our ability to communicate. Literalists have a hard time living in the world of metaphor, symbol, myth and analogy. Without trying to sound mean, I think, at times, the real world is too deep and complex for the literalist.

Much unbelief comes from the refusal to be humble and acknowledge that reality is beyond our grasp to describe. People disappointed in "God theory" think they must become agnostic or atheist. People frustrated with church and preachers (with good reason; I am sure I drive lots of people away) walk away from belief. So much of this is due to bad theories. Our theory of the world, our "world view" dictates all sorts of things. Our assumptions produce beliefs. So I want to say that our starting place, "what is the world?" is also crucial. I want to offer a world view and return tomorrow and flesh it out.

The world is a sacrament. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an invisible spiritual reality. "In-and- through" signs God is working to rescue and heal a lost and broken world. Let me illustrate with a brief parable: I am sitting in an airport, feeling disconnected and alone. I am carrying the weight of my various doubts, fears, frustrations, worries, and anger. I am out of sorts. Suddenly, I see a grandma running to take her two grand children in her arms. There is laughter and excitement. It brings tears to my eyes. Why? Because for that moment I am torn out of my mental cycle of despair and "in and through" those dancing strangers I see a reason for joy and hope. This encounter symbolizes for me the depth of love and grace in the world. I connect them to my own experiences and my own desires.
So do I need God to give me a fireworks show with miracles to see God? Nope. God is alrady manifest, I just need to be able to discern Him present. I need eyes to see. I need ears to hear. I need a heart to discern. I need the courage to trust that those people are a window to the truth of the universe. What matters is self gift and love. The whole world is a sacrament. "In and through" we can encounter God.
Much more to come. Today, try to look through the world to see what treasure lurks behind the curtain of the physical!

1 comment:

  1. "God is already manifest, I just need to be able to discern Him present." - this reminds me of another quote...

    "There is nothing more easy than to come to the gate of truth; there is nothing more difficult than to enter it." - Louis Claude de St Martin

    And another...

    "I was knocking on the gate until I realized I was already on the inside."