Friday, May 22, 2009

God Is Love, Part Two

In my last entry on this subject, some time ago, I discussed how the scripture ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8 and 16) is linked to God’s inherent oneness. In this follow-up I want to discuss how the idea that God is love is linked to His omniscience. God is love because God is omniscient? That may not make sense on the face of it. How about if I rephrase it and say, God is love because He understands you perfectly? He knows everything about you, including how you feel, what happened to you, and what your motivations really are.

Sometimes when we talk about His omniscience, we imagine a big eye in the sky. A heavenly close circuit camera recording our every thought and action. This is a very limited understanding of His knowledge of us. The Bible says God looks on the inward man (1 Samuel 16:7). He looks beyond our actions, both mental and physical, to see why we are the person we are, and He not only does this with perfect clarity, but His understanding is even greater than our own. That is, He not only understands us when others don’t, He understands us when we ourselves aren’t sure of what is happening or why we behave the way we do.

What He doesn't do, however, is confuse explanations with justifications. Just because He understands why we make a mistake, it doesn't necessary follow that He will accept the mistake. We commonly do. I am sure we've all read of some trial in which there is an acquittal that simply makes no sense to us. There may be a technical, legal reason behind it, but sometimes juries seem willing to accept the most ridiculous explanations. Once, in the US, a man was acquitted of two murders because he had eaten some junk food and his blood sugar was high. There are many less bizarre examples and there is another consequence to this behaviour. We often won't hear an apology because we fear that in listening to why the person wronged us we are implicitly agreeing to accept their explanation. So we simply refuse to listen. God doesn't do that, either.

We all want understanding. We all want someone to identify with us, just as we identify with those we love. Their problems become our problems. Their aspirations our aspirations. Because God is omniscient He can be that person for us. He won't lie to us when were wrong, but His capacity for forgiveness is limitless. And His love for us is as boundless as His knowledge of us.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pray Without Ceasing, 1 Thes 5:17

That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. That we are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action, as by prayer in its season.

That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine love: and that when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might, so that he passed his life in continual joy; yet hoped that God would give him somewhat to suffer, when he should grow stronger.

That we ought, once for all, heartily to put our whole trust in God, and make a total surrender of ourselves to Him, secure that He would not deceive us.

That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. That we should not wonder if, in the beginning, we often failed in our endeavours, but that at last we should gain a habit, which will naturally produce its acts in us, without our care, and to our exceeding great delight.

That the whole substance of religion was faith, hope, and charity; by the practice of which we become united to the will of God: that all beside is indifferent and to be used as a means, that we may arrive at our end, and be swallowed up therein, by faith and charity.

That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.

That the end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshippers of God we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity.
The Practice of the Presence of God, The Fourth conversation
Brother Lawrence, 1605-1691