Posted by: gebs | May 5, 2008

The Demand to See God

We demand our right to directly talk to God on a face to face basis as if such a thing were even possible.  Even if it were possible, like the Disciples of Christ, who lived face to face with God as a human person, what makes us think that our reaction will be different?  What gives us the certainty that we will accept what this being has to say, and that we will acknowledge him as God even if he were to turn water into wine before our own eyes?  Why do we think that our rebellion will not be present?  What makes us even dare to think that we are better people than all those disciples, who denied him and were not even present at his crucifixion?  What makes us think that our reaction will be better than that of Peter who denied Him verbally three times at his own trial, despite Jesus’ plead for witnesses (Jn 18: 19-21)?  Only pride could assume such superiority. 

 

If it is pride, then we can be sure that we will never see the face of God, until this great fort of all human weaknesses is revealed and destroyed before our own eyes.  Pride is all that God is not.  Pride is selfish.  Pride is demanding in its ways, and refuses to see beyond its own paths.  The higher the wall of pride, the more difficult it is to see beyond it, and the ever increasing inability to see beyond the ego.  Pride denies any room for change, which itself is the trajectory for any form of spiritual growth.  Without change, on a spiritual level, growth is never possible.  The ever echoing question of the human heart is the need to become better and it longs for the harmony which happiness brings.  Pride denies the human spirit of this longing and takes refuge in what it already knows, even if what it knows is somewhat illogical.          

 

Take the demand to see God, for example.  Our pride makes us think that we can somehow get this without any work.  I wonder if the same rule applies to anything else we want in our life.  Surely we also have the right to have one million dollars, but no person on earth thinks they can get this sum of money without working for it and taking risks.  We also have the right to a happy family and peaceful existence, but no happy family will tell us that it is easy to achieve such a thing, nor would a society spending billions and trillions on defence and law enforcement pretend that peace just comes.  We kill, and are killed, for the peaceful existence we take for granted!  It is highly illogical, and hence typical of pride, to deny the logic that nothing comes from nothing.  What makes us think that we can meet God, of all things, without ever trying to?  It is not illogical to claim that we might find God in our search for God, but to demand his presence, yet do nothing to achieve such an end, we stand little chance of it ever being achieved. 

 

Here is something my own search for God has revealed.  I have slowly come to partly understand what it means to say that God does not leave any person, but rather, we leave him.  In other words, even if I do not have God in my known life, God is with me nevertheless and his sun rises and sets on us all.  We are part of God’s plan, even when we are rebelling.  As I search for God and seek his presence in my life, and the life of my family and the world, I have come to see that God is already present.  Through his Incarnation he has become part of our world forever.  I have come to see that God’s mystery is beyond the pity little fantasies of my mind.  God’s presence is so profound and unfathomable in nature, it exists all around us yet we see straight through it to whatever it is we choose to look at and believe.  It is like the air that surrounds us.  If it were not for the lens of science we would not even know about it.  To see God we need to have the right lens on, a lens supplied to us through the grace of faith.

 

Now faith is grace because, like the words own etymology describes, it is gift.  It is a gift, however, that takes a life time to unpack, if we ever start that is.  The saints are the best examples of what it means to be in God’s presence.  The best current example would be Mother Theresa, who is not yet formally a saint, but one nevertheless.  According to her words, each time she looked at the unsightly face of a poverty stricken orphan she saw God.  The poor were her closest encounters with the all mysterious God.  As Pseudo Dionysius once wrote, God is in all things, and is all things, yet is no thing amongst things.  To demand that God become simply one thing for our own sake seems not only a position of pride, but also a demand which fails to even partly comprehend the dynamic and ever present nature of God.  But who are we to deny anything to God.  God can choose to show himself at any time, to any person, regardless of the nature of their search for him.  Many people claim to have seen and conversed with God, and if the fruit of such an encounter has been love and peace, then who are we to deny their claims.  St Paul (or Saul of Tsarsus) was apparently thrown off his horse by God’s light on his way to persecute and murder Christians.  We can conclude, therefore, by making the observation that although our search for Him brings us closer to his presence in our life, his presence never leaves us, and sometimes it makes itself known despite our own contradictory action or complete inaction.           

 

 


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