Friday, September 16, 2011

The View of God for Me

This past Sunday we began a new course based on the scholarship of Marcus Borg. It is dealing with the themes of God, Jesus, Salvation, Community and Practice. If truth be told, our very first session has already exposed us to some new and challenging ideas about how we as Christians can think about God.

Two Views of God:
Simplifying things for the purpose of teaching, we tried on the idea that there are two views of God. The first view envisions God as a person. Someone embodied who looks like us in the general sense that humans have arms and legs, a head and torso, a heart and a head. This image is a familiar one to me. The depictions throughout time show an old, wise man, with a long white beard standing in the sky looking down with white robes and a staff. I don't offer that depiction in any way pejoratively. God is more often than not viewed this way exercising superhuman love and grace. Often, at the same time, most likely because of our experiences growing up, we depict God as legalistic and the Great Judge. Often that God is near to us, walking with us, carrying us - as the Serendipity Prayer does.

Another view of God is much different. We could put a lot of names to it. Sunday we used the term: All Encompassing Reality. Sounds a little hokie. This view doesn't see God as an embodied person similar to us. It sees God as a divine reality in the spirit of Paul's words in Acts 17, when he said "For in God we live and move and have our being." God is everywhere present as a reality beyond our wildest imaginations.

The View for Me
The older I get and the more I walk with God, I have to say that the first view makes less and less sense to me. I understand where it comes from. We are made in the image of God. We naturally gravitate to ways of expressing the being of God that are familiar to us. However, the old man in the sky, which is what I grew up with, leaves me with so much to be desired.

I like God as an All Emcompassing Reality and am finding that it is really enlivening my faith over the last several years. It opens me up to sit in a coffee shop and sense that God is all around me. In and next to me and the people I sit next to. In the faces of those with whom I converse. It opens me up to the world as beauty and sacred, instead of anti-God and profane. Something about all that touches me deeply and moves me to a greater sense of devotion.

Personally, I don't lose anything. I gain. I'm looking forward to the course and the conversation.

Acts 17
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[c]