RELATING TO THE UNSEEN
The names ‘God’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ are familiar to us, but we have never seen the ‘beings’ these words refer to. No one saw the resurrection of Jesus. In public worship services, study and fellowship groups the words often struck our ears resonating with us as living realities around which our interest was centred. In his teaching about the kingdom of God, Ross is convinced it is based on relationships. The question I have been pondering is – now that we are in isolation, how do we, as individuals, exercise a living relationship with the ‘unseen’?
Today we have become hardwired into a realistic, dualistic, materialistic, scientific environment which operates on a different level and with a different perspective to the mystical element we were endowed with at birth. The use of imagination and faith in the act of prayer is ruled out by many as immature, fantasy, or pretence, akin to child’s play.
Any difficulty we have may be further exacerbated by a clouded, or misrepresentative image of God. It began to be formed when we were told we were conceived in sin, cursed by original sin and not blest and seen by God as born good. The image of God as a Punitive, Vindictive Being is still held by some fundamentalists and conservatives. This has been confirmed by what we saw emerge in America during the recent storming of Capitol Hill. If we are held captive by such views we are hindered from having a true living relationship with Jesus. Such views are inconsistent with his understanding and teaching. His whole life and ministry portray an entirely different image of mercy, grace, forgiveness, compassion and unconditional, all – inclusive love for everyone. According to Jesus, God loves everything he has made and in the beginning declared it as ‘very good’ (Gen.1:31).
When I let the New Testament Gospel story grip my attention and inspire my imagination I see an incarnation of the Incomprehensible, Invisible, Un-imaginable God clothed in the flesh of a human being – Jesus, the Christ who was present at the beginning binding creation and divine into one. Relationship is a combination of friendship and partnership and Jesus invites anyone and everyone to ‘Come to him, and follow him’.
Trusting the truth of his story and accepting it by faith, his living presence becomes the reality it has always been – though unknown to me. God’s first incarnation took place when he became the light and life pulsating in all creation. His second incarnation appeared in Jesus in who the divine and human were combined. His act of incarnation and resurrection has never ceased and relationship with Jesus opens the channels for him to be born in us, as the Christmas hymn expressed, or as he himself said ‘I in you and you in me’.
The truth we need to realize is we may be in a close relationship with God and have little or no awareness of this presence within ourselves. Mother Theresa, whose relationship with Jesus impressed many and could never be disputed, saw Christ in the dying she attended to, and for decades continued to do ‘something beautiful for God’ every day, yet she lived without a sense of his presence within. She wrote, ‘Darkness (in me) is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason. The place of God in my soul is a blank – There is no God in me’. Her summing up of her relationship with God was ‘I am just a pencil in his hand’.
If you want a real relationship with Jesus turn to him with reverence and gratitude, come with trust not fear, come with an open mind not prejudice, come with faith born out of doubt, come as you are, but come with a willingness to learn as you walk with him, mercy in place of violence, truth instead of lies, justice in place of indifference, care for the earth and compassion for the suffering and poor. He said, ‘Those who do it right, not say it right, matter’ (Lk.6:46). Open your heart to him and follow, then hear his word ‘You are my friend’ (Jn15:14). That bond of trust and love, not our feelings, is the strong and fertile basis of a living relationship with him.