God isn’t just a metaphor anymore. He isn’t just “energy” or he isn’t “the universe.” Not anymore. While it may be impossible to understand him completely, he wants to be understood. If he really loved us, would he be satisfied if we perceived him in such a vague manner?
Over the past few months, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about Christianity. I grew up in a religious household, but not a Christian one. After a period of staunch atheism, inspired by my AP science classes in high school, I opened up to God a little. I became convinced that acts of humility and kindness were inherently “good” and acts of exploitation and excessive pride were inherently “bad.” And from there I became convinced that science could not explain everything away, so I relinquished “okay, there’s something more, there is something like a God.” But it was still so abstract. There was acknowledgement, but no substantial relationship. I had only a slight idea of his nature – that he was beyond space and time. Now how abstract can you get? In a way, it was like he was on a distant stage and I was in the audience applauding him. I was applauding him for the beautiful universe he crafted and the way he designed my life. And I was pretty satisfied with that.
Have you ever met someone before, didn’t really get close to them, but then met them again in a new context? And the second time, for some reason, was completely different, as if you met the person all over again? After going to the Brown Christian Fellowship fall retreat last semester, that is exactly what has been happening between me and God. I met God for a second time.
The Christian concept of God is vastly different from what I believed God to be before. According to the Gospel, God doesn’t want to be on stage all the time. He wants to come down and be with the audience. He doesn’t want to be abstract and distant; he wants to literally walk with us in the flesh. Was it me re-meeting God or was he coming down to meet me? I don’t know, but I’m starting to suspect the latter. Over the past few months it’s been great trying to meet a friend in a completely new light. Besides the cliché adjectives like refreshing, inspiring, and awesome, I would say the experience has mostly been humbling. Over the years, I’ve been spinning my own concepts and expectations on God. Thoughts included: “If he exists he has to fit this theology,” or “I have to spend this much time praying to become closer to him,” or “there’s no way he can interfere with the very laws of physics he created.” Well, I think I was limiting God the same way I limit countless other people on a daily basis – with unreasonable expectations and false stereotypes. To even consider that God really did walk the earth as Jesus and continues to do so through the Holy Spirit was a big step for me. That didn’t fit into my previous conceptions of how I thought God should be. I’m beginning to sense that God may be too big to fit into any limited perception I had before. I mean, is there a maximum capacity for love?
Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to learn that a person is more than you expected. Like when the “quiet” kid in class presents the most charismatic speech in English, my misconception shatters and there’s an opportunity to understand that person for who he or she truly is. I’ll admit, at first, it was a little uncomfortable accepting that God really does love me so much that he would actually want to sit down and talk to me. Before, I was sitting in the back of the audience. Now after coming down for me, he has invited me to come up and dance with him, to be a part of his show. It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. Letting him walk right beside me, I’m getting to know him better, and he’s completely changing my worldview.Tags: atheist, beauty, Brown University, friendship, God, love, science