It used to be that "God loves you" was an incredible and powerful statement. The creator of the universe, who made and judged all things, loves you. God who can condemn for all time, loves you. You are the friend of God, loved by God. Your shortcomings and failings are nothing in the end, for God loves you. Many a person was able to stand and go on again. They escaped from the unreality that defined them as nothing, or even evil, into the greater reality of the love of God.
What does this statement mean in a universe where to imagine God as some-one personal is simply too" much?" What does it mean where the whole structure of God, the whole theological architecture of a person's mind has begun to collapse into the unbelievable?
It still means that we are not hopeless and useless. It still means that the creative, underpinning power of everything that is has made us for the good. We are not nothings, failures, evil, useless. And yet how can this work when there is no God? How can it work when God-the-Father-in- Heaven, that benevolent personal figure can no longer be imagined?
Understand here that we are not saying there is ultimately no Divine. We are saying that the old way of imagining God no longer works.Alienation (2001) The old imagining of God the Father in Heaven who watched over us has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions. There seems no adequate vector for the experience of the Divine to come to us. For many the loss of the intimate personal imagining of God means literally the loss of the Divine. "How can God love me?" How can I be loved by an immeasurably
The Apostle Paul tells us we are the "body of Christ, and individually members of it." (1 Cor 12:27ff) A generation ago the hymn writer placed the same insight in verse, "His angels here are human, not the shining hosts above, and the drumbeats of His army, are the heartbeats of our love." (Australian Hymn Book 207)
The love of God is known through the love of God's people. Christ was the pioneer of this faith. We are the followers today. In final terms, it has always been so. The power has always been with and through the person who sat by the bed and held the hand. The power has always been with the person who walked the long road alongside. If anything, the felt love of God was made real by the person alongside. They were the vector of the experience of the Divine to us.
And we can see something we have half known and half denied for a long time. The Father in heaven is too often a sugar-daddy and a cop out. It was too easy for me to say "God loves you," and then not be the vector of Divine love for you. It was too easy to say "God loves me" as an escape from reality rather than be touched and challenged and threatened by the awesome reality of God which comes to us through another. Too easy to escape into an unchallenging God and avoid the confronting call to change that comes in the love of another.
Sometimes I am wrapped in the love of God as I walk across the park, or gaze into the night sky. Sometimes that all leaves me far away and so alone that it hurts. Where is God who once loved me? He is in the woman who trusts me with her life. He is in Mike who cares about me and shares his ideas with me. He is in my Son who hugs me without apology, full of love, an hour after cursing and shouting at me. And God is much larger than He, and the wide sky and the teeming complexity of the whole planet are barely enough to contain the love of God.
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