Random Blog Clay Feet: January 01, 2008
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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Where is God?

But the righteousness that comes from faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim). (Romans 10:6-8 NRSV)

I got to thinking about this this morning in relation to the sentiments that I have often heard in the context of churches that put great emphasis on the second coming of Jesus. I notice that many things like healing of inner pain or enjoyment of intimacy with God are cast in the framework of happening at the second coming. It almost seems like anything other than knowing the right doctrines are postponed to be dealt with after we get to heaven.

As this verse came to my mind in that context I realized a little better what it might mean. We have a tendency to think of God as at a distance from us and we are simply here trying to figure out how to get ready for His coming. We learn to say all the right-sounding words and phrases, but when it comes right down to having a tangible, dynamic relationship that affects our everyday life and is intertwined with even the small details in our lives we really don't have much of it. We often are comfortable with keeping religion and the rest of our life in separate parts of our mind. We believe that the week belongs to us and that only one day we have to go through enough religious routines to feel that God is satisfied with us.

When we find ourselves in trouble we then want to appeal to that God who is out there somewhere to come and help us. In some of our very urgent prayers we might even find ourselves appealing to all the “good” things we have done or the obedience we have performed or even the tithe and offerings we have returned as reminders as to why God should listen to and answer our prayers. When that does not seem to be effective we will even enlist others who we believe are spiritual minded who might have more clout with God than we do to join us in our prayers. But isn't this the same thing as saying who will ascend into heaven to bring Christ down?

On the other hand, we may have a darker view of God. We struggle to really believe that He has any power to make a real difference in our life. Oh, He may work wonderfully in the lives of missionaries or other people who seem to have an inside track with Him, but we have very serious doubts that He would ever pay much attention to the likes of us. So we depend mostly on our own wisdom, experience and the help of our friends or maybe even try to get advice from others who seem to have a better connection with Him. But as far as our life goes, God might as well still be in the grave. 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

The good news is that neither one of these popular myths is really true. What Paul is trying to get us to see is that God is much closer to every one of us than we ever thought. "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).While we are looking and believing that God is “out there” somewhere and has to somehow be cajoled to paying attention to us whenever we need Him, He is wanting us to know that He is already right with us as close as our own heart and our own lips. It is almost like looking for a pair of glasses not realizing that you are already looking through them right on your face. It is really us that needs to be convinced.

Most of our religious routines cause us to assume the posture of God at a distance. But true spirituality realizes that experiencing God's presence is a very close thing, many times closer than we feel comfortable with. But as we learn to be more honest about what is really going on inside of us we will become more aware of the presence of God within and surrounding us. And as we accept the truth of His trustworthiness and experience His goodness in our own lives on an ongoing basis, faith will awaken spontaneously within us and we will experience what is termed “righteousness by faith”.

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