Saturday, November 11, 2017

Where is God?

Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

When we are called to praise and worship God, where exactly is God at the time? And, is it important to know where God is for our praise and worship to have effect?

When we enter into the activity of praise and worship there is a sense of raising ourselves up, and therefore we usually look up. Do we think God is up there somewhere?

Often we enter into this activity when things are not going so well. Sometimes it seems that prayer is a way of escaping from ourselves when we defer to a higher being outside ourselves. It takes the pressure off, but we should ask if this deals with the cause of the pressure.

We don’t have to look very far to see that we live in a society of people that thrives on placing things outside themselves. If we trip on a step and break our leg the first thing we do is look for the fault in the step, it is much more difficult to accept that we were not paying attention to where we placed our foot. Each time we experience misfortune our instinct is to place blame elsewhere. Doesn’t worshiping God fall into this same category? Certainly in the face of misfortune, many people question the presence of God.

What if God is actually within us? St Paul seems to think so.
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Cor 6:16
Conversion of Saint Paul by Giordano 

Paul is the one who opposed Jesus Christ until he had a firsthand experience of the presence of Christ, which caused him to fall to the ground and become blind -we could say that he fell off his under-stand-ing and he could no longer look outside himself. This is how it is recorded in the Bible.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Acts 9:1-7
Through this experience, Paul became aware that each human being can be the temple of the living God! How amazing.

What does this really mean in terms of everyday life? Naos, the Greek word for temple, refers to the inner shrine or sanctuary of the temple, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. A more accurate translation would be, “We are a holy place of a living God.”

Then we can ask, what is a living God? The word ‘living’ is zao, has a connection to the resurrection. It was the resurrected Christ Jesus that Paul experienced. He spoke of this in Colossians “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:27 The living God could be Christ and Christ is IN us, we are his temple. So, instead of placing our issues at the feet of an external God perhaps we should be dealing with our issues within us to make our temple, our inner shrine, the perfect dwelling place for Christ, the living God.

See previous blogpost “Who or what is God?”

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