The earth is bursting with Heaven
Every common bush afire with Heaven
But only those who see
Take off their shoes
- Elizabeth Barrett Brown
One of the most beautiful gifts that the Christian faith gives to the world is found in John 1. John speaks of how the Divine Word gives life to all creation. That all things are created in and through the Christ.
The language John uses points us back to the beginning, to Genesis. And as we look at Genesis anew, we see that God looks upon Their creation, and announces that it is good. That the world, and life, and all that creation has to offer, is good. That we are good. And not only are we Good, but we bear the Divine Image of our Maker. That inside us, all of us, is something of the Divine.
How beautiful and freeing.
To see the Divine in all things, to see goodness in all that is around us.
To look at our neighbour and recognize that we share a common thread. That between each of us, sustaining us, connecting us, holding all life together, is a sliver of Divinity.
We are not separated, but by our own conscious decision. God soaks this world, Her presence is in all things, healing all things, giving life to all things. She connects us all.
The Apostle Paul speaks beautifully of this reality in his letter to the Colossians naming the Christ, as that which connects us. “For through [Christ] God created everything, in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see… Everything was created through [Christ] … he holds all things together (and) through him God reconciled everything to himself. [Making] peace with everything in heaven and on earth… (1:15-20)”
Notice how the Apostle Paul doesn’t hold anything back.
Everything, has been created through, and is sustained by Christ. It is not just those who call themselves Christians, or Baptists, or Pentecostals, or Catholics, but everything and everyone is sustained through, and by the Divine.
The Divine is within all, and all are within the Divine.
How beautiful. How wonderful. How freeing.
I do not need to be afraid of those who are different from me, nor do I need to be in competition with those who have a different spirituality, or different understandings of the Divine, because whether I see it or not, The Divine is there amongst even those who are the most foreign to me.
Instead of fear, I am opened up to curiosity.
My eyes are opened to search out God in all things, in all people, in every experience, in all creation.
My question becomes, where is God in this? Where do I see that beautiful glimmer of Divinity? Where is the thread that connects us?
People from other faiths, other cultures, other life experiences, become fellow Children of God, fellow sojourners on the journey of life.
It a message of unity. A message of Love. A reminder that you and I are connected, to each other, to the whenua, to the world around us. We are not simply individual beings, disconnected, and isolated from the world we live in. Nor are we far from the Divine. God is always with us, in all things, and in everyone.
There is a version of Christianity that teaches us to fear that which is different from us. Whether it be culture, the world, expressions of faith or spirituality which we do not understand, or seem foreign to us; there is an inherit fear that those who do not come to the Divine the way we have, are lost to God. Or – perhaps worse – that they are Her enemy.
This version of Christianity teaches its followers to trust only those things, or those people that label themselves “Christian”.
We search out “Christian” music, “Christian” movies, “Christian” speakers, and “Christian” artists, believing that if it bears the label “Christian” that it is somehow more holy, or perhaps that it is more able to bear the Spirit of God.
But, things are not better because they are Christian, God is no more present in a church than She is in a mosque, or a mall, or your local park. The Divine is everywhere, and in everything.
Now, it is true that not all people, bear the divine image well. Some have allowed their humanity to be distorted by greed and individualism, to be consumed by hate, or perhaps to be twisted by their apathy to the plight of the suffering and the needy. Yet, this is true regardless of the faith one holds.
Yet, even the most distorted of images, is connected to the Christ through the threads of His Love. A crystal glass which has been cracked, does not cease to be crystal as a result of the damage it has incurred.
It is also true, that not all who are Children of the Divine, acknowledge or name this themselves. Many an atheist has served the Divine, while being completely ignorant of Her existence. Yet, a lack of knowledge, or a failure to use a particular language does not alter one’s connection to the Divine.
In Act’s 17 Paul proclaims to the people of Athens that they, without even knowing it, have been worshiping the same God who Christ came to reveal. And that through Christ, God is revealing Himself to all people, and that they (whether they have known it or not) are “his offspring (vs 28)”.
This is the beautiful gift of the Christian faith, yet how often we ourselves have missed it.
There is no other.
There is no us or them, we are one.
I must deny the lie that any are other, for you see if we are all connected, if we are all Children of God, then I have no enemies. The Muslim is my sister, the Hindu my brother. The Atheist and the Agnostic are my whanau.
The same wairau that sustains me and gives me life, lives in them also.
So, I dare not hate you. I dare not slander you, or think evil of you, no matter how you may think or act toward me. For when I look at you, I see in you the Divine Image.
And that is far to holy to degrade.