Monday, December 26, 2011

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

There is a popular kind of atheism strutting about these days. Really, it's as ancient as that cry to Christ to "come down from the cross if you truly are the Son of Man."

The "New Atheism" has clear demands and expectations. "If God is real, then God should be clear and present to us. He doesn't appear to be, so let's shuffle off this hokey religiosity. Religion, they claim, is the root of all wars anyway" (This is a tremendous fallacy by the way. Millions of people died in the 20th century alone from godless communist leaders. More than in any previous century!)

Now I'm not at all shocked that certain people question the reality of Jesus as Savior of the world, the reality of miracles, even of God's existence. This is an age that demands proof and empirical data. For many, seeing still necessitates believing. And we can't see God. Or at least the god many expect we should see. Aye, there's the rub!

This man-made idea of the God we demand appears at will, like a Genie, hovering over the lamp of the world. He fixes all boo boos immediately, or holds an invisible Hand out to stop them from happening in the first place. He answers all prayers, even the really self-centered ones we should be ashamed of actually asking. Or He is like the Force, able to be tapped into at will for all answers (like Google) and capable of making things easy without a hard struggle at all on our part. I'm sorry, but as a parent, I can already foresee the kind of kids this would leave me with: jello headed, lazy, whining narcissists. No thanks. God the Father wants heroes. Strapping lads and lasses ready and willing to build a world of selfless love for all, passionate about co-creating and pro-creating Heaven on earth with Him as their Beloved!

Here's the revelation of the Real God, and I must confess I love His style. He plays "hide and seek" with us. He appears then disappears. He draws us into the mystery of things, and lies hidden in their very hearts. He is both immanent in all things, bursting from their ontological centers, and He is transcendent above all things, weaving the fabric of the Universe together in absolute distinction from it.

He is constantly changing the game. We expect fire and He appears in water. We cry for revenge and He spills forth mercy. We want a trumpet blast and He whispers. We fear to climb a holy mountain so He walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death. We look for a king but He comes instead in a crib.

Maybe in all our searches, and in all our questions, and in all our demands for the Real God to "stand up" we should try getting down, on our knees. Perhaps we're looking in the wrong place. I've gotten the Divine glimmer a number of times in my life. It was always through the little way, the broken path, the fog of the struggle that I found Him. Gilded angels and swirling clouds and trumpets are nice, but they pale in comparison to the dark night (ironically, for even the darkness is as day to Him!) Being full really can't compete with the hollow ache that keeps us searching for More. The barren branches of December trees against the blackness point to a realm clustered with stars. I've learned that He yearns for us to yearn for Him. He looks for us to look for Him. That's what lovers do afterall.

When we learn to see and experience this reality, we discover that ours is a humble God. In stooping low, in listening, in looking with reverence we shall see Him. And be seen. Love stirs even now in that little crib. Hush, hear the heartbeat in the tiny chest of the Infant God. See His breathing now, soft and measured in time and space! See what Love has done? Love has come down to us. Love is made little for us, and we must become little for Love. It is the only way.
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