Is it was possible to have a “long distant” relationship with God?
Someone asked me it I thought it was possible to have a “long distant” relationship with God. Here is our dialogue. I would love others to join in on this conversation. Leave a comment.
Mark – Good question. What do you define as a long distance relationship?
Ferguson – Now that’s a good question too. I think that most ‘discussions’ are a mainly a biproduct of definition differences. Maybe long distance in my mind would be a lack of perception about how omnipresent God really is.
Mark – I don’t know if this is going to help with the question but here is some theology for you:
There are two concepts of God which are opposites. The first is His “transcendence”. That is to say, God is beyond our understanding. He is infinite in every one of His characteristics. He is unfathomable. He literally transcends all of our human understanding. He is divine “otherliness”. He is “other than” any thing in creation. This means that he is distant.
The other concept is that He is “immanent”. He is up close and personal. He is right here right now as I write these words and right here right now as you read them. He is knowable and relate-able. He communicates and seeks a close and personal relationship with each of us. He desires to be so close to us that the only way to describe it is that He lives within us.
Wonderfully, God is both transcendent and immanent.
His most transcendent expression is the act of creation. From a thought He had, all we know came into existence. Our reality is derivative and dependent upon His pre-existence. You can’t get more transcendent than that. On the other hand, His immanence is perfectly expressed in Jesus. God becomes a man to communicate to man in a language we can understand -our own humanity.
God is perfectly present through Jesus. He is physically present. He is knowable, relate-able, understandable, and humanly experiential.
What this means is that our worship of Him will have times in which we are overcome with His Holiness and otherliness and at other times we will be comforted by His intimate and knowable love. Our experience of Him is both, but not at the same time. We cannot experience Him as both in the same moment because we are not capable of it, we do not have that capacity. Here is the problem: Christian traditions have always gravitated to one or the other reality of God. The liturgical churches tend to focus on His transcendence. They do a good job of bringing us to a place of awe in His prescense.
More “contemporary” folksy churches tend to focus on His immanence. He is “one of us”, with us. He is approachable just like Jesus. We can experience His comfort any time we need it. He is right here, right now in a knowable and experiential way. He communicates with us intimately and conversationally. The problem is that rarely does any one church have a good balance between these two concepts of God. And this lack of balance brings an incompleteness to our relationship with God.
I don’t think it is possible to have a long distant relationship with God. That in my mind would be to see Him only as transcendent. This did not work for Israel.
Christmas [God coming as a man] is the solution to that problem.
No matter how you see Him as transcendent there is no real relationship with Him until He becomes immanent, until you know Him through Jesus.
Does this help?
Ferguson – Wow, I would say yes, that does more then help. Thanks
Mark – Let’s see if anyone else wants to comment on this dialogue – the challenge is thrown out!
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