Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A prism, A God, and this world.

I used to serve a god.  Now I think I serve God.  

Bold statement for both my past and present associations, I know.  But in a whirlwind of hurt, chaos, selfishness and pride, I somehow found vulnerability, peace, love, and humility.  Needless to say, through this kenosis my perception of God has been completely transformed.  

I grew up in the church, and I am eternally blessed for the heritage of faith that I formulated within that community.  Yet, as most of us do in almost aspect of life, I took for granted the traditions and ideas that I received.  I do not mean to insinuate that there is any innate fallacy in my inherited faith, but I adopted the doctrine and interpretations of pastors, teachers, and professors without investing the necessary effort to evaluate for myself what God would have me hear in His Word.  I felt a strong connection to God, and I developed strong ideas within my faith about who God was, and who I am in Him.  I held to these ideas with a bona fide conviction that informed what I saw in the Text and how I interpreted my purpose in this world.  I sought Truth and I wanted righteoussness.  But--and, I would guess we have all felt this--there was some indiscriminate or inexctable fiber within the makeup of my beliefs that was just unresolved.  Not that there was doubt.  Not that there was blatant disregard, or even discontentment, but if we are talking about the God of the Universe and the Creator who reigns eternally, is there any validation for having any fiber, and moment, any formulation of thought that is not completely sold to this Being?   But all I knew was what I had been taught.  

And although I had questions, and sought answers whole-heartedly, my ideas guided my discoveries instead of the truth.  A scientist would even say that removing biases from an experiment is nearly impossible.  It is the ultimate goal of the Scientific Method to use empirical methods of observation, but we all know the results we are seeking when we care enough to structure an experiment, so creating an open environment where Truth emerges from the variables, is both necessary and arduous.  So, I would not completely condemn my previous understandings because I am aware that they have brought me to the point at which I presently stand.  Also, they were formulated from a genuine desire to know and understand God, which I thought was something I could achieve.  I think this whole journey (a.k.a: Life) is about pushing forward towards new ideas and better "us"es, so I allow for this shift in thought and regard, rather than regret, the tread stones that led me to today.  

Yet at a certain stone in my not-so-distant past, I experienced a world that had been somewhat hidden from my formative years.  As I looked to the world around me, I saw hate and evil to the same proportion I witnessed good.  I saw violence and favoritism from a god that claimed benevolence and a love for the whole world.  He says he is the Alpha and Omega, as the Beginning and End, but I began to doubt that he cared much for the other 20 Greek letters, or the entire middle section, for that matter.   And as the friction between my beliefs and my experience grew stronger, the discomfort in my spirit brought me to a moment of absolute humility.  

If God is the eternal Truth, and His Word is the primary source by which He reveals Himself to me, I should not be afraid to earnestly seek the Goodness within His Text.  If I opened myself to Truth, I trusted that truth would be revealed.  And So I decided to shed everything I ever thought I knew about God.  Not reject, but shed.  And I would allow Him, for the first time in my life, to tell me who He was, and to share with me the secrets in His Word.  This was scary because I was not sure whom I would discover, and what that would mean.  If God could harden Pharo's heart and drown Egyptian soldiers, and send His own creation into a burning furnace away from Him for eternity, I couldn't be certain I would want to server Him for the rest of my life.  And as if this apprehension were not sufficient means to abort, I was incredibly aware of my daunting role in receiving His revelation.  I was going to have to dedicate myself fully and thoroughly to this task.  I had no clue what I would find, or where to begin.

So I started with Genesis.  Seemed logical enough.  And when I began to read the opening scenes of creation, for what I would consider "the first time," I found myself so engrossed and in awe that I read the first four chapters no less than twenty times before I even wanted to move on.  Each time I reread our story, I found something so precious and new, that I wanted to read it again, in case I had missed something else.  This Supreme Being within the narrative of the created world was so much more than I had ever dared to dream.  The surreal realization of His greatness and majesty and mystery left me inspired by His awesomeness.  And then I saw my downfall.  I wanted to know God.  To understand Him and confine him within the limitations of my mind.  But I could never know or understand God.  Who did I think I was? Not even Jesus knows the mind of God.  So if I could not know, I had a decision to make.  Would I reject the ideas of Goodness, Perfection, and Immutability that I had grown up with?  Or was there another option?  Because this God of Genesis is incredible. If God is all He says He is, then He is everything.  Everything.  The good.  The Bad.  The beautiful.  The whole world--in both concept and matter.  For, in the beginning there was God (only God).  Therefore, He is the only substance of creation.  Every single aspect of this world we experience must be a realization of Him.  This may seem like blasphemy, but if His Word is True, and He is God, this is Him. So, how am I to reconcile that what I see in God and His creation does not appear to always be Good?  Well, who are we to question the Potter and how He molds the clay?  And who am I to assume I could ever exact any complete conception of Goodness.  If I cannot know God, and God is Good, how then could I even know the nature of Eternal Goodness?  Perhaps I cannot.  And when I accepted this God, I saw the world in a completely new light.  So I read one more time, our story of our God.  And this is what I see.  

In the Garden of Eden, God's creation ate from a tree that granted them the "knowledge of Good and Evil,"  making them "like gods."  

Point No.1: The "knowledge" of Good and Evil.  Adam and Eve did not create evil, or introduce evil into this world.  They received a perception that allowed for the distinction between Good and Evil.  Evil had always been there--creation simply could not separate it from the Good.  To Adam and Ever, there was no Good or Evil.  Only God.

Point No.2:  The tree was within God's garden.  God had planted it there, and even given instructions as to not eat the fruit.  Adam and Eve discovered a part of God that He had contained in the fruit.  This knowledge was not outside of Him.  

Point No.3:  God had wanted to intentionally disclose this knowledge from His creation.  God knew the effects of this knowledge.  He had a plan for His creation--that it be a perfect extension of Him.   He offered salvation in obedience, by not eating the fruit of the tree.

Point No.4:  God wanted His creation to choose.  Just as God is dynamic and changing, He wanted us to evolve and make choices with the same freedom that He himself has as Creator.  We are, after all, created "in His image." Therefore, He planted a tree that contained the wisdom of gods.  Yet knowing the burden of such understanding, God instructed His creation not to eat of its fruit, as to protect them from this knowledge, while still offering them the dominion to choose either obedience and Shalom, or disobedience and Chaos.  

I think we all know the rest.  

God must have realized that His light could always reign on this earth, if He preserved the recognition of the darkness.  But He could not just eliminate this aspect of Himself, and still achieve a full expression of His image within His creation. He had to offer the sovereignty to toy with the proportions and hues of God's character.  And did we ever.  Let me explain. If we consider white light, and its passage through a prism, we can access a metaphor for this transition.  White light could be compared (as it is in His Word) to the Love and Goodness of God.  God dwelt among His creation, and had complete dominion, so long as His people followed His commands.  Yet, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and the veil was removed, their eyes were opened and they saw the variations within the colors of God's light.  It is as if in that moment, God saw that they no longer chose Him, and He coated this world with an atmosphere of separation, dividing the physical from the spiritual realm.  God was no longer the ruler; therefore, He handed over the goodness of His creation to its own devices until a time when He could redeem it.  Redemption is the Reconciliation of God's creation--an hour when Shalom rules and God can reclaim His creation.  But until then, He allows His creation time to again chose Him, but must hide His fullness from the imperfections of our own misconceptions.  And our misunderstandings are the results of the atmosphere. Remember the prism?  If God's love is Light, and our disobedience required the installment of this atmospheric prim, the there is a change as His light enters our world.  When God's eternal Purity and Goodness pass through the earth's prism and fall to the world below, the light separates, and we see the many colors within the spectrum of His Providence.  Blue and Purple, Orange, Vermillion.  Each color could be seen as a point on the spectrum of Good and Evil.  We have gained perception of such a distinction through our disobedience, and now the character of God is difficult to conceive, as we would have to create a vortex that would combine every color in perfect proportion to again perceive the white light.  Through obedience, God could again lift the prism from our atmosphere. Yet we failed.  Time and time again, we failed.  God is so patient.  But He must have recognized our tendency towards evil, as we act foolishly in the knowledge that was never intended for us.  So He decided that He would enter our world and be the instrument of convergence.  He would lead a blameless life, and we could see the true form of God.  Sound familiar?  Well... we have established the effects of passing light through a prism.  The light is refracted, and separates into different colors.  But what could recombine these colors?  Incredibly, if we pursue this analogy a step father, it turns out that God uses the very same material to display his white light that was used to disperse it.  When light passes through one prism, it is separated.  When light passes through a second prism, it is recomposed.  Thus, if we are to at all access an understanding of God, we must first recognize His presence in every color.  And secondly, look to Jesus for any image of His Goodness.  And when I assumed this perception of the function of God's Goodness in our world, I grew hungry to imitate the life of Christ, as I fell in awe of the incredible mystery of God.

And in this new discovery, I encountered a God much greater and hardly recognizable to the god I knew before.  When I looked to the god I had accepted, I understood why my heart did not burn for His Word and His will.  I had created an idol, a counterfeit--he may as well have been Ashura or Baal.  My own little god was who I needed, and wanted to follow.  He loved me, and protected me, and justified many of decisions that were rooted in a heart of pride, conceit, and resentment.  But when I honestly assessed the cubicle I built for my god to live in, he did not seem to be any kind of a Creator of the Universe.  I had him figured out--more like an imaginary friend that fit in to my agenda.  But this God.  This God, I am incredibly aware that I can never fully know.  Not until he lifts the prism and His Goodness descends on this earth, at least.  And God wants to reign again.  So desperately.  Our only salvation is in the atonement of Jesus, who lived to be the example for a live of Shalom--everything exactly as God has willed it.  Then the world will again belong to Him. Every color will be reconciled unto him as the most glorious light--with vivid hues that we know exist, but can only experience and not perceive.  This is the day I live for.  When all the colors combine.  But for now, I live everyday in the light of the second prism.  Seeking the Goodness, Humility, Sacrifice, Vulnerability, and Authenticity that is undeniable in the Christ.  

Thanks for stopping by.
Be encouraged.  Seek the Light.  Walk in the dust.

Stay dusty.


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