Thursday, July 5, 2018

Who or What is 'God?'


As I stated in my post last week, I am on vacation this week. Rather than write a new post, I have chosen to look through some of my past ones and re-post one that speaks to where I am in my journey today. At the end of this post, I encourage us all to “reexamine our view of God.” I am taking my own advice.

I am working on a new post and a new Sunday lesson or lessons. The working title is God Meets You Where You Are. I recall hearing that phrase often when I was in the Baptist church. I was not sure then what message the minster was attempting to convey. Although I am still not completely sure, I have my suspicions.

I would love to hear from you. When you hear the phrase, “God meets you where you are,” what comes up for you. Do you think it’s true? If not, why? If so, why?

I hope the following post from August 2015 will stir some thoughts and conversation.

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When we were discussing Unity beliefs in our New Members class this past Saturday, we read the following definition of ‘God’ which is included in our information packet.

God is the source of all. There is no other enduring power. God is benevolent and present everywhere.

One of our very astute potential new members pointed out that for us to say “God is benevolent” implies duality. She suggested that when we say that God is benevolent, we are assigning God qualities that we associate as “good” compared to those we might deem “bad.” Her point was that God is neither good nor bad, nor is God benevolent or malevolent: God is.

In a conversation earlier this week, I was asked how I define ‘God.’ I don’t recall the exact words I used, but I did my best to explain that I think of ‘God’ as the Divine Life that is the Source of all or the Life Energy that imbues all creation. In hindsight, I recognize that my effort to define ‘God’ was, at best, limited and futile. Anytime we attempt to define ‘God’ we limit our experience of ‘God.’ God is not this or that: God is.

Any attempt to define the ineffable is by definition impossible. However, while saying simply “God is” best captures the essence of my concept of ‘God,’ I think it is helpful, and perhaps necessary, for us to explore what we believe and teach about ‘God’ because it helps us as we communicate with others.

Each of us defines ‘God’ in our own way, and our concept of ‘God’ greatly impacts every area of our lives, at times enriching it, and at other times confounding it. To some, ‘God’ as a concept can provide comfort and peace of mind in times of need. To others, ‘God’ can also create much suffering. ‘God’ can stimulate a great deal of pain and guilt for one who has learned that God judges and punishes. 



Over the past few years I have participated in discussions about ‘God’ and the use of the word ‘God’ in Unity. I have heard, “I do not believe in God: I am an atheist.”  Others have said, “I am agnostic: I do not believe that any person can know the cause of reality without firsthand experience; therefore, there is no way to know if ‘God’ exists.”  Still others question, “If we are not talking about the big guy up in heaven somewhere that is controlling everything, the God of most Christians’ understanding, and we have a more evolved understanding of what it is, why do we still use the word ‘God’: Why not use ‘Life’ or some other word?” 

While it is just a word and as with all words, is used to represent a concept, the word ‘God’ is imbued with centuries of meaning, not all of it in alignment with what we teach in Unity. When one, such as I, has been indoctrinated in a religion that uses ‘God’ to judge, punish and abuse, he or she often has a mental and emotional imprinting of the word that is not conducive to feeling centered or inspired when hearing ‘God’ spoken in the spiritual community. 

There was a time in the not so distant past when I chose not to use the word ‘God’ and was often disturbed when I heard others use it, especially those in Unity or other New Thought communities.  And, while I now use the word freely, I completely understand that it can be disconcerting and even confounding for some. I am sure it can be for them much like it is for me when I attend a traditional Christian church service; I find myself reinterpreting nearly everything that the minister says, as well as all the hymn lyrics. It can be tiring and trying.

When I use the word ‘God’ today I am certainly not referring to the God of my childhood, a man with a white beard and white robes sitting up in heaven somewhere judging me and everyone else and most likely damning me to eternity in hell because I do not measure up to his criteria for admittance to heaven. 

When I say ‘God’ I am not referring to a being or beings. I am, instead, to the best of my ability giving voice to that which is ineffable. I believe H. Emilie Cady said it best in her book, Lessons in Truth.


“God is the name we give to that unchangeable, inexorable principle at the source of all existence. To the individual consciousness God takes on personality, but as the creative underlying cause of all things, [God] is principle, impersonal; as expressed in each individual, [God] becomes personal to that one--a personal, loving, all-forgiving Father-Mother. All that we can ever need or desire is the infinite Father-Principle, the great reservoir of unexpressed good.”

God is. God is “no thing,” yet is All. God is the Essence of all that is real. As Unity co-founder, Charles Fillmore stated, “God is the eternal verity of the universe and humankind.”

I invite us, as Rev. Ellen Debenport encourages in The Five Principles, to “reexamine our view of God at least once per decade.” God does not change; God is and was and every more shall be the same. However, we change and so do our perspectives. Rather than dismissing the concept of ‘God’ altogether or putting 'God' in a box, perhaps we can allow our concept of ‘God’ to evolve and open us to an even greater experience.

Please plan to attend our 10:00 service on Sunday, July 8, as we welcome Avital Miller as our guest speaker. She will also facilitate a workshop beginning at 12:00. Avital is the author of Healing Happens: Stories of Healing Against All Odds. She will share her personal story of healing, and her interactive workshop will instruct you in ways to claim your own healing. Register Now!

2 comments :

  1. "God meets me where I am".......Because my understanding is that wherever I am, God is, this make perfect sense. God is the essence of me; God is in everything, everywhere. In any place, at any time, in any situation, in any conversation or any experience, there God is. In times of peaceful alignment with the One, there God is. That's an easy one!
    In times of inner turmoil, there God is back of the fear, confusion, doubt, pain and suffering. As I remember that my mind is the Mind of God, my heart is the Heart of God and then listen with courage and faith, God "meets me". In difficult relationships or conversations, God as me "meets God" in thee. I remember that God "looks" all ways, even in difficult and challenging moments or in what I perceive as difficult and challenging personalities. God is there because God Is. God "meets me" where I am because the pure light energy, Infinite Intelligence, Holy Divine, Source of all that is, is me (is you), meeting each next moment in this life experience. Indeed, God "meets me", as me, as you, as us right where we are. In the thick and the thin of it, this beautiful Truth is. As I deepen my understanding of this Truth and consciously embody this "knowing", life exponentially enhances.
    Rumi sums it up: "Beyond the rightness or wrongness of things there is a field, I'll meet you there."
    Namaste

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    1. That's a great explanation! Thank You!

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