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Answers About God

April 19, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 207

How can we find answers to about questions about God, our religious questions? The truth is that we cannot understand God since God is a word that describes reality that is ultimate. This idea of God is the ultimate of which we are aware and the more we cannot even perceive. The answer, then, is "no" when the sense of understanding is how to troubleshoot a computer, how to study for a test, or what makes life worth living. In fact, we can probably understand all these infinitely more clearly than we can understand God. It has been suggested that ants crawling on a calculator are better able to understand its workings than we can understand the depth, breadth, and extent of God's nature and purpose. The answer is clear: "no"...and "yes." Perhaps the best road to travel in finding answers is a story.

The four men climbed resolutely up the steep mountain trail-the teacher and his three closest friends. They found a secluded area at a high altitude and there something quite strange took place. His face began to glow, to shine "like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white." Jesus was transfigured, his physical appearance was changed, as Peter, James, and John watched amazed and awestruck.

However you understand this event-a miracle? A vision? A parable? All three?-it points to a mystical and religious experience for Jesus and also for the three disciples. A face shining like the sun and clothes dazzling white spoke of holy things happening: of burning bushes not consumed by the fire and of angels appearing at empty tombs. And if the clarity that this was mystical and religious was not yet established, suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and started talking with him. Moses had embodied the Torah, the Jewish Law-Moses the Lawgiver, while Elijah had embodied the prophetic tradition of Israel, including the recently martyred John the Baptist. The spirit of all of Jewish history and tradition was now filling Jesus.

The symbolism of this was hard to miss, but Peter did his best. He interrupted the conversation of Moses, Elijah and Jesus by making suggestions. He suggested they set up camp right there. He would even make places for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah to live. There were two problems with Peter's response, even if you don't count his bad manners interrupting their conversation. The first problem was that Peter wanted to start building stuff, to build an earthly structure for a heavenly experience. Whatever was going on with Jesus, it was definitely super-natural. Try as we may, sacred reality cannot adequately be contained in earthly structures-not without distortion. Even our efforts through church history to contain the sacred spirit of Jesus within the institutional church inevitably distorted his message and meaning-often by our very passion to treat it with reverence and homage.

At the point of Peter's new building campaign, something else mystical and symbolic happened. "A bright cloud overshadowed them" (Matthew 17: 5a) The Gospel account does not say if the "they" was Jesus, Moses, and Elijah; just the disciples; or all of them. We do know that this cloud represented God's presence-God's glory. In the Old Testament book of Exodus, the cloud of God's glory covered the mountaintop where Moses waited to receive the Ten Commandments. An anonymous medieval writer called this symbol "the cloud of unknowing," reminding all people that it is impossible to see God from the outside-to see God objectively. On the mountain of transfiguration, the answer did not lie in the Jewish religious tradition or in the mystery of that mountaintop experience. It was in Jesus and in the disciples themselves as they heard and followed him.

The second problem with Peter's response, the second mistake Peter made, was to plan to stay on the mountain top-to live at the point of his religious experience, to polish it up and set it on the shelf, to worship the experience itself. He didn't mean to do that. He was just being enthusiastic, but that's what happened. The answers to our deepest and most honest questions are found when we live into them. But that is not up on the mountain. It is down the mountain, in the valley, where our lives are lived. God spoke, saying, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17: 5b). And then the cloud of unknowing vanished.

The mysteries at the heart of life, true answers about God, are not to be explained through logic, or prose, or any of our thought processes that only seek to control knowledge. But these mysteries can be expressed in poetry and the cloud of unknowing can be touched in song. Do you remember this song?

I've looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow It's cloud's illusions I recall; I really don't know clouds at all (Both Sides Now--Joni Mitchell, 1969)

Faith is kind of like clouds. It is what you can know and what you can't know. Intuitively, we can know that the basic universal force-the core life force-Is reflected in what we call love. And this is love in its many forms: warm as well as challenging, offering comfort and accountability, using gentle words and sometimes words of agitation. At the heart of life itself is the love of God, the love of others, and the love of self. We participate in love when we act for justice, learn to trust, work for freedom, and live with compassion.

The Bible never explains God. It assumes God. It describes God in terms of people's experiences and perceptions like the story of a group of people describing an elephant, having never before seen one, and using only their sense of touch. None of them had the complete picture. Each touched a part. In addition, they had to describe what they were feeling in concepts and language they already knew. We understand God only in part and our descriptions always use terms and concepts we already know. We are reminded that our understanding of God, our interpretations of the experiences we have of the divine, are not identical with who God is. In large measure, they reflect us: our own experiences, fears, and insights. Perhaps the best opportunity we have for understanding God, to the extent we can, is by knowing ourselves. We can look ever more deeply into our inner self and learn because the imprint of God is there. The best way to understand God is by paying attention to your own life's journey. That was the invitation, the answer, Jesus offered his own disciples on the holy mountain of transfiguration. That is the invitation and the answer God offers each of us today.

The knowing of God comes with a price tag. There are consequences to our seeking the answers to our deepest religious and spiritual questions. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, when their eyes were opened, there was no turning back for them. When the children of Israel followed Moses across that Red Sea, through and eventually out of the wilderness, there was no turning back. The knowledge of God, and of God's will, is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. When you know God, the only choices are to take and do what God places before you, or reject and leave it. But either way, you have to own your knowledge of God and your calling from God. You have to own your response to God or you won't be able to see God. But no matter what you do, God never rejects or leaves you.

Moses entered the cloud on Mt. Sinai. Jesus' disciples were enveloped by the cloud on the mount of Transfiguration. The cloud represented the divine presence and human confusion. Much of our lives are lived along the continuum between these polarities. What we do with the confusion and the inspiration will probably shape how satisfying our journey is to us and how helpful it may be to others. What will it look like for you to go back down the mountain, to the valley, and live out what you've learned? First there is dealing with the fear. One author has written, "Fear holds us back from giving 'free and open assent to the destiny [God's] love is shaping for us.'" Fear robs us of our power and silences our own unique voice.

God calls each of us to a kind of spiritual fasting-the challenging process of letting go of the familiar that impedes our growth and embracing the joyful, if scary, process of saying yes to life. God invites each of us to enter deeply into the challenges, the joys, and confusion, and the fear of our own lives. There, and nowhere else, God's very presence waits for us in love. God's presence in us is our answer.

Do you have questions about your religious faith? Are you confused? Do you suspect that there is more to life than you are getting? When people ask me what I do for a living, and I know they won't listen to me more than about 30 seconds, this is what I tell them: I work with people who are on a journey. Many struggle with finding answers to their deepest questions. Some had given up ever finding these answers and many even stopped asking the questions until they talked to me. I've been a pastor for 30 years I have earned a doctorate degree from Princeton, two master's degree.(one in theology and one in music). I've worked as a musician, a church musician, a drama coach and actor, as well as a pastor. I'm married with two children, three dogs, and two cats.

Source: EzineArticles
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Answers About God


Religious Questions


Answers About Jesus


Questions For God


Faith Journey


Who Is God

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