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Where Is God...really


jerryb
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luke 17:21 clearly states..."the kingdom of God is 'within you'. If this is true...why do we look up when we pray? Shouldn't we instead place our hand on our heart, and pray to the God who lives there/

 

 

 

 

Just wondering,

 

jerryb

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luke 17:21 clearly states..."the kingdom of God is 'within you'. If this is true...why do we look up when we pray? Shouldn't we instead place our hand on our heart, and pray to the God who lives there/

 

 

 

 

Just wondering,

 

jerryb

 

I think this can be taken in a litteral sense. I don't look up, I close my eyes and inward. look

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I found this question quite surprising because I have never known anyone to look up in prayer.

I see it in religious images etc, but in the churches I have belonged to, everyone has always bowed their head downward when in prayer or reflection.

To be honest, I never thought of prayer residing in a specific bodily location like heart or head.

If I were to raise my head, it would be more about intensity of thought, than any sense of God being "up there."

(But then maybe this is a Christian cultural remnant that I have unconsciously adopted, like beard stroking, which is something some people also do when in thought, even without beard!)

Recently, I have been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's "An Altar in the World" and she talks of our physical bodies as being part of an ongoing prayer life. eg. prayer walking, but also hanging out laundry as being like hanging prayer flags.

It is about every aspect of our lives becoming opportunities for thankfulness.

This kind of prayer requires no set posture or practice at all.

I think being progressive, means opening prayer up to all sorts of practices and there are some exhausted and emotional times when wordy prayer is just beyond my capabilities...

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I found this question quite surprising because I have never known anyone to look up in prayer.

I see it in religious images etc, but in the churches I have belonged to, everyone has always bowed their head downward when in prayer or reflection.

To be honest, I never thought of prayer residing in a specific bodily location like heart or head.

If I were to raise my head, it would be more about intensity of thought, than any sense of God being "up there."

(But then maybe this is a Christian cultural remnant that I have unconsciously adopted, like beard stroking, which is something some people also do when in thought, even without beard!)

Recently, I have been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's "An Altar in the World" and she talks of our physical bodies as being part of an ongoing prayer life. eg. prayer walking, but also hanging out laundry as being like hanging prayer flags.

It is about every aspect of our lives becoming opportunities for thankfulness.

This kind of prayer requires no set posture or practice at all.

I think being progressive, means opening prayer up to all sorts of practices and there are some exhausted and emotional times when wordy prayer is just beyond my capabilities...

 

 

hi time,

 

 

I totally agree with your post.....especially the part about our physical bodies being part of an ongoing prayer life.

And lately I am "haunted" by this sobering question: What if the only God there is, is the God inside us?

God help us if that is a fact.....reminds me of the old cliche..."If it is to be, it is up to me".

 

 

blessings,

 

jerryb

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When my husband was little he asked the minister at his church why people bowed their heads and looked towards hell when they prayed.

 

I personally don't close my eyes or bow my head. I think I started not closing my eyes when I wore contact lenses and it irritated them.

 

I don't think God is anywhere. God just is, like time.

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[quote name='jerryb' date='Jun 19 2009, 12:34 PM' post='1766

 

 

And lately I am "haunted" by this sobering question: What if the only God there is, is the God inside us?

God help us if that is a fact.....reminds me of the old cliche..."If it is to be, it is up to me"

 

Hi jerryb,

I think prayer is the most challenging aspect for me as a progressive Christian.

I know that many people, having reached this point on the journey, where they no longer believe in a God who intervenes, give it up completely.

I was never raised to think of prayer as an opportunity to ask a kindly "dad" figure for help ( I was also raised to think parents had to pay for the gifts Santa Claus brought each December) but I have a very dear friend, who is travelling this path with me, who feels alone, now that she believes that she cannot call on God to step in and save her loved ones in times of danger/sickness/emotional distress. It saddens me to have pushed her a little further along the path, than perhaps she was ready for. She feels very alone.

For me, prayer was always about giving thanks and asking for non-tangible stuff like tolerance and patience (although I know plenty of people who pray for parking spots and the like!)

If there was a request to be made, it was more a corporate thing, food for the poor, comfort for the lonely.

Having said that, I can honestly say that I pray less now and I do have questions about why I am doing it.

Sometimes it is just a daily spiritual audit about what I did well and where I fell down, and a list of things that I am thankful for.

Other times it is just quiet contemplation. I listen to my feet as my march my way through my daily walk and am thankful that I have a strong body to carry me about.

I still really enjoy the prayers of people like Walter Brueggeman and if it turns out to be simply powerful poetry, that grabs me in my chest and makes me sigh, I am okay with that.

I feel connected to a community of believers and prayer connects me to them, regardless of our differences.

In terms of god being inside us and within everything, I really don't know.

Am I praying to some collective goodness? I have no idea.

I do know, that when I first realised that I no longer believed Jesus to be the biological son of God, that I had the thought "What am I doing in church then?"

It was the knowledge that I still really respected the teachings of Jesus and that was still my life, that kept me hanging in there.

With time, my understanding has changed and I still feel that I belong there.

I feel the same about prayer. I am hanging in there, in the hope that wisdom hits me sometime soon.

Until then, I am happy with "I don't know."

 

BTW I don't believe in hell and when I bow my head and close my eyes, I am just shutting out the world. Yes, I am using gestures that meant other things to ther people, in other times, but that is what it means for me today.

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Great question, Where is God? God is in everything...............................compost, a sweet fragrance, the brilliance in fire, the life in all beings, a dream, a delusion, and in all religions. God is calling to us in the five senses to be aware of omnipresence. I think the most important thing is that God is everywhere, but where there is nothing. This is not contradictory. You think the fragrance comes from the flower and it does. Expand consciousness and the doors open wider so we stop identifying, labeling the fragrance so it comes from God so is God. There is no where we can go to hide from God if we see nothing outside of God. To see God we need to see no-thing.

 

You are like a mirage in the desert, which the thirsty man thinks is water; but when he comes up to it he finds it is nothing. And where he thought it was, there he finds God. Similarly, if you were to examine yourself, you would find it to be nothing, and instead you would find God. That is to say, you would find God instead of yourself, and there would be nothing left of you but a name without a form. ~ Al-Alawi

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Great question, Where is God? God is in everything...............................compost, a sweet fragrance, the brilliance in fire, the life in all beings, a dream, a delusion, and in all religions. God is calling to us in the five senses to be aware of omnipresence. I think the most important thing is that God is everywhere, but where there is nothing. This is not contradictory. You think the fragrance comes from the flower and it does. Expand consciousness and the doors open wider so we stop identifying, labeling the fragrance so it comes from God so is God. There is no where we can go to hide from God if we see nothing outside of God. To see God we need to see no-thing.

 

You are like a mirage in the desert, which the thirsty man thinks is water; but when he comes up to it he finds it is nothing. And where he thought it was, there he finds God. Similarly, if you were to examine yourself, you would find it to be nothing, and instead you would find God. That is to say, you would find God instead of yourself, and there would be nothing left of you but a name without a form. ~ Al-Alawi

 

Good post soma.....especially the part where you said"if you were to examine yourself,you would find it to be nothing"....I felt like that many times when I was a fundelmentalist singing that old hymn that says,"Amazing grace....that saved 'a wretch like me'. But I am most thankful that God helped to realize,finally,that I was not a "wretch", but a divine creation of God.

Thank you for reminding me.

 

 

blessings,

 

jerryb

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jerryb, We are so fortunate to see God everywhere. I also need to be reminded that God visits when I leave. Salutations to the Divinity within you. I think it is such a nice gesture to bow when meeting someone else and acknowledging that God within that person.

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Timeflows,

Would you like to start a new topic on prayer for more discussion. It would be interesting to see how progressives weigh in on that. I think very few if any of us pray to the bearded old man in the sky expecting physical interventions. Zap!

 

Janet

 

 

Hi Janet,

 

Lately....when I try to define prayer,I really lean toward Bishop Spong's definition" I do my praying as I do my living....my very life is a prayer".

And since I personally believe that God lives inside of us, instead of somewhere "up there"...prayer has become extremely more intimate for me. I find that exciting and challenging at the same time.

 

Oh by the way...have you ever seen God answer prayer without using a human being? I can't say that I have.

 

blessings,

jerryb

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  • 1 month later...

luke 17:21 clearly states..."the kingdom of God is 'within you'. If this is true...why do we look up when we pray? Shouldn't we instead place our hand on our heart, and pray to the God who lives there/

 

 

 

 

Just wondering,

 

jerryb

A curious question, jerryb,

It matters not where you look or place your hand, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say. 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." - Lk 17:20- 21;

The kingdom of the Messiah is not temporal or external; it's spiritual. Look for the kingdom of God in the revolutions of the heart, not of the civil government.

 

To that point-

The pharisees, to whom Jesus was speaking in v. 20 & 21, were looking for a discourse from Christ concerning the signs of the coming kingdom of God, that is, the kingdom of the Messiah, which was now shortly to be set up, and of which there was some great expectations.

 

The term "within you" is also translated as "among you" or "in your midst". Since the Pharisees were unaware of where the coming kingdom was, it was not yet "in" them.

---

I'm a little puzzled over the 'Amazing Grace' posting (June 21 @ 10:50). Are you agreeing with Soma, or criticizing his comment about us being nothing's? It appears your thanking Soma for reminding you that you are a "nothing".

(Do you think you may have misinterpreted the meaning of "Amazing Grace"?)

 

Do you mean by saying "divine creation" that: what was created was by God; or that it is God?

 

Just curious.

 

Dk

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I'm a little puzzled over the 'Amazing Grace' posting (June 21 @ 10:50). Are you agreeing with Soma, or criticizing his comment about us being nothing's? It appears your thanking Soma for reminding you that you are a "nothing".

(Do you think you may have misinterpreted the meaning of "Amazing Grace"?)

 

Do you mean by saying "divine creation" that: what was created was by God; or that it is God?

 

DavidK I hope this quote clears up divine creation and nothing for you.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5

 

Related to the quote above I will clear up about being nothing. DavidK are you your bank account? your social security number? your name? your title? your body? your race? these are things. Do you relate to these things to other worldly things or to no-things your divine self?

 

15"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2

 

A claim to be something in the physical makes known a lack of relationship with God in the spiritual, a lack of being in God. 'Nothing' shows one is more inclined to the spiritual than a claim to the physical things. This is a spiritual realm in which some live their lives, a realm in which decisions, choices, behavior and character are shaped. Those people who live their lives "in God" are those whose character and behavior are shaped by God's truth and love. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 Therefore, spiritually God's truth is viewed as something that is active, indwelling, omnipresence, and powerful. This spirituality shapes the person in whom it dwells. Obviously, then, when we are reminded of God's truth within we are thankful because we are again directed to God's amazing grace. Our minds have an attraction to outer physical manifestations so when we are redirected to the inner communion with God we are amazed again at God's glory.

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A curious question, jerryb,

It matters not where you look or place your hand, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say. 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." - Lk 17:20- 21;

The kingdom of the Messiah is not temporal or external; it's spiritual. Look for the kingdom of God in the revolutions of the heart, not of the civil government.

(snip)

 

 

 

Davidk,

 

This seems to me to be a very astute interpretation. I very much like your wording.

 

Joseph

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Why thank you, Joseph.

---

 

Dear Soma,

 

I don't follow your use of these scriptural references as they may pertain to my questions to jerryb.

 

In John 1:1-5, John is speaking of Jesus Christ when he speaks of the Word (see v.14). In 1:3, John unequivocally attributes none of God the Father's creation was made without 'Him- Jesus Christ.

 

Man is a part of creation that has been created by the uncreated Creator (whew!). The claim of a personal physical existance is not without irrefutable evidence. God made us as living beings with a physical body as well as a spiritual soul. We are meant to relate to both.

 

Are you suggesting by the use of the word 'divine', that it is in the sense of being supernatural as opposed to human; having the nature of a god; and being deity? If we are simply a part of God, there's no reason for our existing as individuals.

 

Despite those confusions, and after the first 3 lines of your last paragraph, the last of your post was well written. I could pick over a couple of small points, but overall, very nicely done.

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"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5

 

I feel this quote shows that God the Father is the ultimate source of all, including Jesus and the Spirit. It shows that life did not simply come through the Word but was in the Word. The Word is the agent of all creation. The Logos of God, the Agent of Creation-created us with spiritual and physical life, but we died spiritually (Genesis 2:17)when we set up our own will against the holy will of God the Father. I feel this symbolic transgression forfeited God's divine life, and we became aware of the awful effects of physical life without the divine life of spiritual bliss. We became liable to pain, disease, and death in physical existence. Worse than that, we lost the spiritual image of God's pure consciousness.

 

Our heart didn't stop beating, but our spirit, which is that part of us that communes with God died. That's why we need someone, something to come and reveal the fullness of God's love to us and in the case of Jesus lay down His physical life for us. We need to be born again with a new spiritual life so that we can again connect and commune with God in spirit. Spirituality is our journey of deepening responses to God. This spirituality is rejected by some and is received by others. The rejection or reception of divine life or the spiritual life is where some are in their journey. John was trying to establish an appreciation for the divine life of spirituality.

 

The imagery of coming alive as God's children suggests the power is always there to produce the divine life, but it is a power that must be exercised by the person. John does not say "he made them children of God" but "he gave them power to become children of God" (John 10.2).

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Soma,

 

Splendid little treatise on the Fall of Man and man's need for a Savior.

 

I'm sorry if I'm slow in catching on to all you intend, because I'm not certain what is your intent here. For, John 10 is the parable of the good shepard.

 

---

Dutch,

It seems, without human participation prayer would have no need to exist. It was made for man. Since it will always be for man, humans will certainly always be involved.

---

Any individuals posture during prayer (in regard to previous posts), should not be to indicate where we think God is, but perhaps be a posture of humility and resignation. As far as answers are concerned, God will answer them, but we must be ready to accept His 'NO's" as well as His "YES's". His answers are always perfectly apropos.

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soma wrote

That's why we need someone, something to come and reveal the fullness of God's love to us and in the case of Jesus lay down His physical life for us.

What about the billions of years before Jesus? Is Jesus the only answer to the revelation of God' love.? Experience of nurturing love precedes homo sapiens. soma, are you implying that there are other "cases"?

 

 

davidk wrote

God will answer them, but we must be ready to accept His 'NO's" as well as His "YES's". His answers are always perfectly apropos.

This response has been used many times but I feel that it is insufficient. Richard Foster said that "to Pray is to change" and, in that experience there are many more answers than "yes" or "No"

 

Dutch

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soma wrote

What about the billions of years before Jesus? Is Jesus the only answer to the revelation of God' love.? Experience of nurturing love precedes homo sapiens. soma, are you implying that there are other "cases"?

 

glintofperter, Great question. I think the revelation of God is universal and that universality is reflected the phrase "the coming of the light that gives light to every man." It could be translated "This was the true light that enlightens everybody at all times by coming into the world". This is the universal application of the light for every individual at all times. The light of Jesus is as universal as the light of creation, but as a Christian I refer to it sometimes as the light of Jesus. The light did not come merely to some Christian elites, nor to a single nation or culture. In Christianity we refer to the light as the Word that became flesh in a given time and place in the name of Jesus, but the Word was from the beginning. It is the scandal of some Christians to make the light specific for only Christians. People of all cultures and times are to, have and will receive the light that shines on everything. This means the light of God is manifested in and throughout the world's religions and philosophies. It is only by this light that we recognize what is true light everywhere. When the true light has come, I feel one can see the light shinning on and through everything. I feel the light is not the full degree of the genuine true light if one only sees it in a part of creation. The light encourages us to recognize that which is of the truth from every quarter.

 

God is not working out salvation through one nation, and specifically one person within that nation, but through a universal salvation. The light shines on everyone. The tragedy is the mixed response to close the eyes of the mind to see only in part and not the whole or true light. The light was and is in the world for everyone. The prophets of all religions have witnessed the light and have experienced rejection as the common human response. Thus the same old, familiar pattern is repeated by people who have not had an enlightened experience.

 

The imagery of coming alive as God's children suggests the the light is witnessed as the power that produces divine life that is why I feel it is a power that must be exercised by a person. I think that is why John did not say "he made them children of God" but "he gave them power to become children of God".

 

Jesus speaks of the oneness of all believers that all of them may be one, and links it with the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son. It is model for Christians about the relationship among believers, "just as you are in me and I am in you." I think the light shows this concept of one God, the recognition of one universal God and human nature. Jesus for Christians is made to embody this unity, one God and love. I feel Jesus suggests that the working of the believers' oneness with one another and to the Father through the Son is a process that will take some time and perfecting in seeing the whole light. May we have the grace to see the light.

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soma,

 

In the Resurrection topic you wrote

I love Jesus in the physical form and start my meditation with it. It is hard to love the impersonal so Jesus is a form I can love in the physical where he resurrects in my mind as Christ consciousness where I can enjoy an expanded consciousness in the impersonal God.

 

and here you write

I think the revelation of God is universal and that universality is reflected the phrase "the coming of the light that gives light to every man."

 

I appreciate the many layers of, and the breadth of, the vision you have. Some day I may even understand the mystic view of yours.

 

Thanks

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

I recently posted on this subject on my blog and thought it might fit here.

 

In the gospels, Jesus said that God is spirit. He said that because God is spirit, God must be worshipped in spirit and truth. In my opinion, Christianity has hijacked the word “spirit” and has tried to define it, primarily, by what it is not and tried to make it serve in religion.

 

What I mean by this is that, for Christianity, “spirit” means “non-material”, or not susceptible to the senses. So God is thought to be this immaterial being who lives beyond the sky who, because he cannot be known through the senses, can only be believed in. Hence the necessity of faith in this God. The religion that grows out of this understanding of “spirit” is focused on determining who is in and who is out with this God depending on who believes in this God and who doesn’t.

 

I think this is a serious distortion of not only “spirit” but of religion itself. My studies of the scriptures have led me to believe that when Jesus is describing God as a spirit, he is not primarily speaking of God’s immaterial essense. Rather, he is speaking of God’s omnipresence and interconnectedness with the universe. This is why his answer to the Samaritan woman concerning where God should be worshipped is so radical. She believed that God was in Samaria. She knew that the Jews believed that God was in Jerusalem. Jesus tells her that because God is spirit, God is not confined to physical locality and that God is accessible to everyone everywhere.

 

This connectedness is also reflected in Jesus’ Two Greatest Commandments where he tells us that God is loved by us loving each other. The apostle John says much the same in his book, that if we say we love God, but if we don’t love one another, than we are lying about loving God. This, again, is a radical notion. This means that God does not care about religious systems that make up rules and doctrines about who is in and who is out. God cares about how we treat each other. If we don’t truly love one another and feel connected to one another, then our claims to love God ring hollow.

 

So, to me, being spiritual does not mean going to church, praying three times a day, studying my Bible every day, or doing all the things that Christians do to practice their religion. To me, being spiritual means being aware of my connectedness to everyone and everything around me. It means being aware of God in my own heart to where I can reach out to the God I see in others. This is a quite different paradigm from the way that Christians think they own or posess God so that they can take him to others. For me, being spiritual means that I learn to love others to where I put them first. That is the kind of God I see in Jesus. That is the kind of God I can believe in, even in my own life.

 

Where is God? Where is not God? Sure, we can point to people and events in human history where it certainly seems that God was absent. But it is usually the case that those people and those events somehow forgot how interconnected we are with one another and how, if God is love, that love is God.

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