What can you teach me about God? And what might I be able to teach you? These questions have the power to lead us to see the divine in each other and to discover, in a deeper way, the sacredness in our lives.
In the last few months, we’ve explored three pillars of authentic spirituality: loving ourselves, loving others, and loving the world. Now we shift to the final pillar which is loving God. But to do this, we need to have some idea of who it is that we’re loving. We need to learn about God and develop a relationship with the Divine in some way. Inevitably, a lot of our learning comes from other people. We learn about God from one another and from what we see of the divine in each other.
In this episode of the EvoFaith Podcast, we explore how recognising the divine within us all can lead us to a greater awareness of our own sacred selves. And from that awareness, we can experience the richness of a truly sacred life.
Have you been looking at the photos from the James Webb Space Telescope? I have been so moved and awestruck by them. I love being overwhelmed by the vastness and beauty of our universe.
In the light of these photographs, it amazes me that we still tend to look up to the skies when we speak of God. Somehow we still think of God as ‘up there’ looking down on us, or watching us ‘from a distance’ as the song says. But the images from the Space Telescope have given me a completely different feeling. However we may understand God, the Divine isn’t up there, or not only up there, but the Divine is right here.
And that’s what the Gospels of the Christian scriptures are trying to tell us. Jesus is God among us, they say, God with us. And Jesus taught us to recognise that God is also within us. We have God’s breath in us. God’s life is our life. God is so not distant. Not separate. Not far off. God is closer than breathing. Closer than the blood pumping in our veins.
And that means that when I look at you, I am looking at a manifestation of God. A divine incarnation. And I can learn about God from you. If I want to love God, if I want to connect with God, then I have to learn to love the God in you. I have to learn to connect with the God in you.
As we saw in our series a few weeks back loving each other isn’t always easy. But perhaps if we can begin to open ourselves to the God within each other, we can dive more deeply into a sense of God’s presence. We can experience a deeper awareness of the divine within and among us. And we can connect with the Spirit that moves through our entire lives.
Now for the moment let’s put the question of whether God actually exists, or what the nature of God might be, aside. Whatever your feelings or thoughts about God or not-God, let’s just explore the More, the Divine, the Spirit, the reality that is bigger than us that still lives in each of us and is revealed in us. And let’s explore what we can learn about this More, this Divine reality, from each other.
So, what can I learn about God from you? What can you learn from me? What can we all learn from one another if we’re willing to look and learn? The list is endless, but here is one that stands out for me: the reign of God, the presence of God, the values and priorities of God, are within us all in some way.
In Luke 17:20-21, we read about a conversation between the Pharisees and Jesus. This is what it says: One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Some translations say “within you”.
I’ve seen that! I’m sure you have too! I saw it just this last week watching videos of Joni Mitchell performing at the Newport Folk Festival—that happened I think about a week ago. As she sang ‘Both Sides Now’ she was radiant! I saw glory in this 78-year-old, who had survived a brain aneurysm that made her have to learn to sing and play guitar all over again.
I remember seeing the reign of God in my father nearly 12 years ago. He was frail and just days away from death, and I saw it in just a small window of precious time I got to spend alone with him. For me, that hospital room was sacred ground. I saw a similar thing with my wife when she had a very similar experience with her father in his last few days. And I’ve seen this glory of God, this reign of God, in surprising moments of connection with unexpected people. In unexpected truces between antagonists. In hidden common ground with people who challenge me with what I sometimes feel are their crazy ideas. I once saw God’s glory in a child who happily shouted “Hello” to everyone he passed in the shopping mall.
There is divine glory in us. We don’t have to look out there. It’s here. Sometimes special places will help us to be aware of what we can’t see in the daily routine of our lives—like for me, when I visit old cathedrals. But we don’t need to go to ancient or holy places to find God. We can remember the Divine when we look at images of space or a colour-soaked sunset or brooding mountains and excited rivers or whatever beauty speaks to our souls. But we don’t need these things to find God.
Whatever we may believe about God or Life or Spirit or the Universe, there is more within us than we generally recognise. We are not God—obviously. No mentally healthy person actually believes that they are THE God in and of themselves. But we are all divine. We are all containers of the Divine. We are all incarnations. The reign of God is within us all.
We don’t need people to point out to us where God is. We don’t need signs and miracles. We simply need to feel the life that keeps our hearts beating and our brains firing and our lungs expanding and contracting. And the more we remember this about ourselves, the more we learn this about one another, the more we will feel that divine Life, that divine spark, rising up in us, guiding us, filling us, and waking us up. And the more we will show up, automatically in our lives and relationships. The more we will know and experience and live immersed in the sacredness that we long for.
You don’t need somebody to tell you ‘The reign of God is there’, or ‘It’s over there’, because the reign of God is within you. And when I look at you I can learn about the reign of God and the God of that reign from you. And hopefully when you look at me you can learn something about God as you see God reflected in me—or at least I hope you do!
Next time we’re going to talk about what we can learn about God—and how to connect with and love God more intentionally—from what we might call ‘true believers’ or fundamentalists. Don’t miss it!
Thank you for your time and attention. And stay connected to the sacred. Bye for now.
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