Sunday, August 7, 2011

the reality of God

"You are beyond my understanding
But still You speak where we can hear."
(Jen Whitson, an excellent friend and songstress)

One of the first questions asked on all my ordination exams and papers is, "How do you know that God is real?"  I think it's the hardest question we're asked in the whole rigmarole.  You can't just say, "Because I know," or, "Because that's what I was taught," or, "Well, I just believe it to be true."  The question, in essence, asks for a kind of apology (Christian theology term for a rational defense of the faith).

I feel this question hanging in the air with my contemporaries.  In this age of disillusionment with the church (most of it well-deserved for a church that hasn't adapted to changing mores and a much larger horizon), people want to know why I would hitch my horse (my very, very young horse - I'm looking at a minimum of forty or so years until retirement) to this behemoth in the midst of a slow bleed-out.

John Wesley, my main man, held that you can't look just to nature for a defense of the faith - it's not specific enough to Christianity.  But I do know that God is real because of this:

(A country road ending in Clinton Lake, a place where I spent many precious moments discovering myself and others.)

And this:
(This is a Tibetan artisan monk.  I had the privilege to watch him create a sand mandala in Australia a few years ago.  I will write about it sometime.)

And this:

(This is my very best friend Amanda on the right.  I will write a lot more about her someday.)

And this:
(This is the pastor and the bartender.)

And this:
(You know who this is!)

God is real to me because God is incarnate in people, just as God was in Christ.  God truly does speak in a way that resounds most clearly to each of us, and for me, it's people - with all their mess, all their demands, all their needs.  God is beyond my understanding, and beyond my proving, but I know that God is real.

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