This is the continuation of another article, so unless you read part 1, this may be a bad place to start. Read that, then pick up again right here.
That’s the real kicker, because we talked about “What is experience?” but we haven’t talked about “What is God?” Because it actually changes what the “experience” is.
Is God a thing? I hope you would say no.
Is Jesus a thing? I also hope your answer would be no.
Sure, his body is a thing; a set of cells just like other living tissue, so what made him unique? There was nothing about his body that was any different than any other human being’s. It was never about his physical body. It was never about the empirical encounter with Christ, and neither was it about his existent presence. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe in God and shudder because of it. Not only do they have a belief, or a comprehensive, factual knowledge of Him, they even act upon it. But their belief in Him doesn’t change the fact that they are still Demons and will continue doing demonic things. In fact, they might even be doing their little demonic activities because of their belief in God.
But God isn’t some-thing to be missed, or lost, as if he were a friend that just happened to have left right before you got there. To compare who He is to a thing is to envision Him as a thing. And when God becomes a thing, that thing becomes an idol. The small thing of God that you hold on to.
You experience things; You encounter things. You hear God’s voice, but that’s not the exact same thing as experiencing God. Not fully. That wasn’t God. That was His voice. His voice is a thing. You can idolize the voice of God and ignore Him. Jonah heard God’s voice and he went simply went right off in the other direction. So clearly encountering the things of God are not the best things out there to determine my Christianity.
But when you Love, no-thing changes. Every-thing stays the exact same as its always been. But my view of every-thing changes. And not just every-thing, but everyone one.
Love will change people. It changes me, and in changing me, it changes how I treat you. It changes how I view the world, and my desire to view the world. It’s though Love that I can finally see the Sacred in the Secular, and its all around me.
Maybe you noticed the picture at the top of this article. Its the exact same one from part 1, but its no longer out of focus. I imagine that when it was out of focus, the only thing you really noticed was how pretty the lights were. But now that the focus on the picture has changed, you began to notice that the lights no longer matter as much, because there is so much more going on in the picture. Like the people for instance.
Its because of Love that I finally see the neighbor in mourning as someone who needs to have someone to commiserate with. It’s because of Love that I finally notice the homeless man on the street corner as more than an inconvenience to my day, or worse, a thing to be pitied. It’s because of Love that I look at the orphan as something with no value whatsoever, and not an object to be loved, but a person to give my life; my existence; my love to.
Peter Rollins still says it better than I and with prettier language:
“This is what love does. It does not make itself visible but, like light, makes others visible to us. In a very precise sense, then, love’s presence cannot be described as existing, but rather is that which calls others into existence; for to exist literally means to stand forth from the background , to be brought forth . As we have mentioned, love does not stand forth and vie for our attention but rather brings others forth. When we love, our beloved is brought out of the vast, undulating sea of others. Just as the Torah speaks of God calling forth beings from the formless ferment of being, so love calls our beloved out from the endless ocean of undifferentiated objects. In this way love is not proud and arrogant. It does not say, “I am sublime , I am beautiful, I am glorious.” Love humbly points to others and whispers, “They are sublime, they are beautiful, they are glorious.” Love does seek out our hymns of praise and prayers of adoration. Love does not want our sacrifices or seek our time. For love always points toward another. To honor is to be in love, to swim in the world illuminated by love.”
Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine (p. 121).
Every time there is an act of Love, true love with no other motivation than love itself, it is an act of God. Its more than an act. Its God.
God is Love, and He’s not exclusive to Christians or to those who have “felt his presence”.
Peter Rollins gives three options to the our typical Religious approach to God:
1.) You accept that God is never fully present, so all of the little Christian practices become worthless in conducing yourself for Him to show up and transform you.
2.) You believe that its only you that will never encounter God, and therefore you are unworthy somehow.
3.) You believe that God appears in exceptional moments, and so you strive towards more extreme religious practices, praying that one of them will be the secret rite that summons God’s presence.
Rollins criticize the notion that God is someone who you can meet at some point in the future as missing the point of why God does “show up” sometimes.
Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine (p. 116)
Its because He’s always there. We just don’t always “see it”.
So how do we experience God?
By doing nothing. By being loved. By existing.
And if we Love other as well, without a sense of guilty reciprocation, then we partake in the Godly experience.