11.30.2010

Who is God?

We've all heard it said- "When it rains, it pours" and although currently the weather here is dreary with a chance of bleh, yesterday was a downpour in my personal life. Thankfully, I've been given the opportunity on multiple occasions to witness people who have (and will have) it much worse than I currently so I'm able to take the bad news coming my way with the insight that although my future and the future of my family looks daunting and uncertain, I am still incredibly blessed.

That being said, I woke up this morning and as I brushed my hair and applied my makeup I sat in front of the mirror trying...and failing to pray. Not only do I feel like I've legitimately forgotten how to, but I realized I've completely alienated myself from God. It's so easy to do when I'm in a place in my life where things are going well for me. I unconsciously decide that since I'm in a good place in my life, what other use do I have for God? This was not exactly a "Eureka!" moment as it's something that I've always struggled with, and probably will continue to do until my dying breath. However, this reality took a turn and spawned a whole other train of thought.

I won't rehash my Christian testimony, but suffice it to say that my early experiences with Christianity took form in witnessing the effect Jesus had on the kids in my youth group back home. Coming from a place of hopelessness, sadness and depression, I marveled at the fact that kids my age were so sure of themselves and so happy just to be. I was hopelessly awkward and unsure of myself in high school and I completely admired the confidence this group of teenagers collectively had. This in turn led to my salvation, and was my first impression of a loving God.

As I continued to attend that Church in my hometown, I took on the beliefs that my congregation held and decided they would be my own. In hindsight, I sincerely regret that some of these beliefs held a position on homosexuality, the role of government and the military and abortion that I would now consider to be somewhat exclusionary and ignorant. Yes, there was a time when I believed myself to be conservative *shudder*. ;) I may not have personally believed the values I was upholding, but was under the impression that the God I served had a sort of rulebook that needed following in order to be the best possible servant.

Enter Eastern University in August of 2006: a renowned Christian institution which produced such social evangelicals as Tony Campolo, Ron Sider and Shane Claiborne. It was immediately evident that I was in an environment with some of the most liberally-minded Christians I'd ever encountered. Their way of interpreting God was so radically different, and something that immediately resonated with me. Through my time at Eastern, I discovered a latent passion for political science. It never before occured to me that Christians could work within government for the change we sought in bringing God's Kingdom to Earth. I was in the presence of some of the most intellectual and passionate people I'd ever met, but what struck me more than anything was how much they loved people and loved God. This was a Jesus I could get on board with.

During my time at Eastern, I was also provided the opportunity to witness God in an African context as well as serve as a campus ministry leader. The latter was especially profound because not only was I considered a Christian leader on Eastern's campus, the role afforded me the opportunity to meet bi-weekly with a campus minister to discuss my spiritual life. I was able to reflect on my relationship with God and truly make my faith my own.

Present day: I volunteer full-time for a non-profit committed to local and sustainable food production in the hopes of combating poverty. While I am truly invested in the program, I am noticing that my time here has caused me to grow distant from my Father. It occurred to me this morning that my perception of God is a direct result of the Christians I have come into contact with over the years, and if you think about it- isn't that how everyone's idea of God is formed? This leads me to believe that perhaps the reason I'm sensing this distance is because of the absence of major Christian influences in my life. This is not to say that they're missing, but for the first time since accepting Christ, it's entirely up to me to form these bonds and reach out to these people. And assuming I do so, will my relationship with Jesus change as a result?

It makes me wonder, in spite of all these differing perceptions of who God is, no one really knows- who is He really? Not to appear blasphemous, but it would be easy to argue that God could be an almighty entity or He could be a figment of our imaginations. I'd have to say, even if the latter were true, I'd still want to believe because of the sense of hope and love accompanying my faith, but really- who is God?

Just something I've been thinking about...

2 comments:

  1. I've thought about this same question so many times. (I'm catching up on all your blog activity I've missed!) And, regretfully I have no answer. Though, it also stand to mention that I haven't done any sort of serious contemplation or reading or meditation...one of my many downfalls.

    I think that God obviously has some distinctive, unchanging characteristics that cannot be argued: he is love, he is compassion, he is righteous, he is good, he is unchanging (etc...). But I think that on a more specific and personal level, God is something different to every believer. And I think that who God is to you depends on your own past, your own experience and your own needs.

    I'll be the first to say this is not at all satisfying because that means we, as individuals, actually have to actively seek an answer for ourselves. It's not concrete, we can't adopt it from someone else, we can't be told. But it's the only thing that really makes sense. There are so many different, and often conflicting opinions and theologies out there outlining who we are supposed to be and who God wants us to be and who God is. I'm coming to believe more and more that we have to use church and theology and all of those formalized Christian influences to guide and steer us and provide us with Christian fellowship and nurturing, but as far as who God is and who we are in relation to him, on a personal level, that's totally up to us individually to figure out.

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  2. My pastor recently proposed a New Testament challenge in which one reads the whole New Testament in 90 days. I started last week and even though it seems a little daunting, its not really that bad because it averages out to about 3 chapters a day which only take maybe 15min or so to read. Since you are wanting to know who God is and grow closer to Him, what better way than to crack open His book! I have really been getting a lot out of it so far and if you are interested in doing it and want the schedule of how it is divided up for each day's reading, I could type it up and email it to you. Let me know if your interested! Also my pastor suggests you have a partner or small group for it to discuss and keep you on track, and my mom is my partner, but if you do it we could be long distance partners if you want!

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