What we are experiencing is, for many of us, a once-in-a-lifetime defining season of change. A health pandemic reached the doorstep of the United States and barged right in. We Americans are used to watching scares such as this play out in other countries, while we apathetically take it in through the twenty-four hour news cycle. Protests and riots over police brutality are happening across the nation. Law enforcement is responding with, at times, respect and, all too often, with brutal force. We have a president failing to unite us, preferring harsh rhetoric and resorting to typical pomposity. Let’s not forget the underlying hum of joblessness, a crashing economy, and climate change anxiety. Many of us wake in the mornings after a restless night wondering where the heck is God in all of this? Even the staunchest believer or church goer is disturbed by the uncertainty.
I am not an ordained minister. I am not trained at a theological seminary. I am not a guru with an army of followers. I am, however, a person who attempts to live with “ears that hear.” There is an answer: God is in us.
This is not a far-fetched theological assertion. In fact, it is a core tenant of the belief system. We forget that God works in and through us. Or we reject it, believing that this work can only occur through perfection. Further, we may sit back, waiting for the miracle to “come down from heaven” – not realizing all the while that we are the miracle. It is a mistake to think of God as magically supplying all physical needs. What kind of God do we expect? The God that parts the Red Sea? What is more miraculous: that God can shift a body of water or that God can change hearts and move us to action? Perhaps some of us stopped believing in a miraculous God a long time ago and church has become nothing more than a social club or philanthropic endeavor.
Where is God? Here. With us. Alive in us. Where there is love, God is revealed. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) When we unobstruct ourselves and set aside our own plans, desires, and judgments to listen to the Spirit with an open heart, God’s model for the relationship between humanity and the Divine is fulfilled. This is Church. This is action. This is change.
These are confusing times. We want someone to tell us what to do next. Even the most devoted individualist will admit that the next step is unclear and some guidance would be helpful. Where is our generation’s Dr. King? Our leader? Many feel unprepared for the task.
Oh, but we are prepared! We are. The time is at hand.
And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the word of the prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22)
What is “evil?” – anything that is not of God, and we already determined that God is revealed in love.
It is more than “being the change we want to see in the world.” If we want to see God work in any of this, “it” must be us. Recognize your position as literally God’s gift to the world. That “gift” is the relationship that exists when love is the instigation, the connection, the pursuit, and the result of all we are seeking.