For many of us we have this idea of the Divine as an old man sitting somewhere high in the Heavens getting ready to judge us. Or God is a man with a long white beard on a throne on the clouds behind high walls and pearly gates. He is on high.
Perhaps God is the one who comes down to meet us when our faith is adequate or our prayers are sufficiently uttered.
God intervenes when there is great injustice or His will needs to be done.
God is fixed somewhere else and we need to invite Him to where we are.
We see this over and over in our worship music and in prayer services when the leaders offer the phrase, “meet us here”.
For me growing up I heard the phrase, “God showed up” on a regular basis. Then Sunday night, nostalgia hit hard. I sat in a movie theatre hearing those very words in the lines of dialogue a dozen times – minimum. A big push in the movie was how God showed up and the love and glory of the Divine was exhibited through the characters of the film.
Our understanding of the Divine is that good is above us, the Devil or evil is below us and we are somehow caught in the intersection between the two.
We see this in Genesis when God “comes down” or when Elijah goes “up” into Heaven. The Psalms also speak of a God who rides on the wings of the wind. In the Gospels it is written that God “sent His son to Earth”.
Humans are on earth while God is in the Heavens. At the rapture, we will be “taken up” into glory to be with God, because that is where He resides.
This understanding is one of the ancient writers. The ancient writers only knew their world. They only knew what they could see. So God being “in the Heavens” was a completely plausible idea. Now we can see the heavens. The Hubble Telescope has seen 10-15 billion light years away! 10,000,000,000 – 15,000,000,000 LIGHT YEARS AWAY! That is incredible. So now, we look to the Heavens and we see amazing things, but not a God. We went to the moon and no one was there. We sent a rover to roam the planet of Mars and didn’t find anyone. Our perspective on what is above us and what is below is completely different than the writers of the scriptures.
As we have advanced and learned more about our cosmos, we can study what’s “above us”. Humans have grown of our awareness of the universe and the understanding of our world that the Divine is “up there” can breakdown.
Let’s think about this perspective that most of us live by without realizing it. Lets look at what happens when we think that God is “up there”.
With this perspective people will often have the question, “well, why did God show up for this but not show up for that?”
Do you believe that God shows up to proclaim his glory for professional athletes but doesn’t show up for those being killed during the genocide in Rawanda?
It would have been nice for God to show up and stop the war in Uganda that has now claimed the lives of tens of thousands of children.
Let’s not even mention the Holocaust. It would have been nice for the Divine to “come down” then.
Or on the opposite end of the spectrum…
Don’t you know people, or haven’t you prayed to find your damn car keys? And BOOM you find them!
So God intervenes to help us find car keys but doesn’t do a freaking thing for the crisis in Syria.
God helps a young football player score touchdowns but does nothing for the Jews in Nazi concentration camps?
This trivializes the Divine.
Looking back at the story of Christ. Apparently, God saw that something was not right on earth and decided to “send His son down to earth” to fix whatever it is that was wrong through killing the very son He sent.
If we have a perspective that God is somewhere else and occasionally meddles in the affairs of some people, but not all, sometimes, we can begin to hold a poor understanding of who God is.
When we talk about God, we are talking about our fundamental orientation of reality and our bedrock views of how the universe is.
The mindset that God is off there and we need Him here, doesn’t work anymore.
Look at how much focus our worship on Sundays has shifted to “meet us”, “come”, “fill this place”, etc.
God is not off somewhere else. God is the source, which everything flows from.
God is with us.
Our beautiful life experiences are an echo of the Divine.
Those times you feel the most connected. The connections you can’t explain but yet you feel something bigger. That is God.
God is when we go to serve someone and leave feeling like that this act of serving is what life is about.
Sitting shiva with a friend who has just lost someone close to them. This is the Divine.
It’s those times with good friends that seem to last forever and you leave to go home and think, I want everyday to be like this.
God is a Divine being beyond gender and yet we can experience the Divine as both Father and Mother.
There have been times that you felt God to be a Father holding you tightly, protecting you as well as times when you felt God comforting you as only a mother can.
There is a difference in using metaphors to describe an experience beyond words and believing that God has to be beckoned to meet us where we are for whatever reason.
I believe that God is not off somewhere else.
God is present here and now in all people.
If we cling to this thought, this belief, that God is somewhere else, or God is distanct from us, we are missing out on the presence of the Divine waiting to be experienced. Worse is what this does to how we interact with the Divine. If we believe God is off somewhere else and His coming “here, down to us” depends on His mood, or will or our hearts or whatever you put as a determining factor, we run the risk of missing the love of God waiting for us to awake to it’s reality.
The Divine is here. With you. With me.
The Divine dwells in the suffering of the world. It does not flee from suffering. It joins us in our toil, in solidarity.
God is not off on high watching. God is amidst the souls of the people.
We must awake to the reality of the Divine. Wake to the presence of God. The reality is – God is in you.
No need to beckon Him down off his throne on high. He is walking among us.
What a beautiful thing!
Grace and Peace.