Of God, the universe, and how the more I know the less I know

Imagine if you will the universe. We as humans have a desire to make sense of the world around us as well as the universe around us, and so we send objects in space to take photos of us and then some. What we can see is appropriately known as “The Observable Universe”;

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and it is as we zoom out we can see the complexity and the magnitude of the universe. We get lost in the bigness of it all, we are enamored of the complexity and we are compelled to travel farther into space.

and in a similar fashion, that’s how I “observe” God.

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It is true, that God is as big as you’ll allow God to be, so if you make God convenient, bite-sized, put-God-in-your-pocket, manageable, domesticated, and so forth…Godย will remain that small. God will be knowable, comprehensible, understandable, and you never need wonder what is God up to because God has been reduced to a systematic theory and thus is fully known.

But, if you are one for dreaming big and offering up bold statements to God, try this one on for size; “God I want to know more about you, on your terms and not my own”. It’s not an uttering of magic words, it’s simply allowing God to be freed from the constructs we impose upon God.

It is under these circumstances that we go further and further out and see how small we truly are inasmuch how big God is; the box we once contained God to is a mere blip, and the further out we go the less we know and yet it is because of this we are compelled to go out farther still.

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So let go of the God you once claimed to know and go farther. And as you go out you will see your smallness and fragility, but embrace the fact that God loves you deeply and completely!

~Nathanael~

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Grace at our convenience is no grace at all

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I was dwelling and meditating on the nature of the grace the other day, and it crossed my mind; if we are to extend grace to ourselves and others, it should be radical and be freely extended without convenience.

One of the definitions of Convenience is “adds to one’s ease or comfort” and subsequently lies the crux of the situation; grace shouldn’t be at our ease or our comfort, it should be given freely without strings attached.

Yet I think that sometimes the reason (or at least, one of the reasons) grace isn’t extended freely is because we as humans have this thing called memory, and we recall the offense[s] that have happened both past and present and our actions are somewhat dictated by those memories. We want to extend grace, but we remember what was done to us…to our family…to our community, and in remembering perhaps it takes us back to that moment, whether it was a day ago or 10 years prior or even longer.
And that is why I think grace is hard to extend to others and ourselves, because we want to extend it on our terms and when we want to…but I think that flies in the face of what grace is, because grace subverts the norm every time in every way.

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So where do we go from here when we’re confronted with our own shortcomings as well as the shortcomings of others? I believe in the words of St. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “It is always the right time to do the right thing” and this time we have in front of us is ideal for extending grace. Not because we ought to do extend grace, but we should, for in some way this very grace is being extended back to us in a way that gives weight to grace being a beautiful example of a symbiotic relationship.

So wrestle with forgiving the offense, be mindful as how you deal with forgetting, and let grace help you let it go.

~Nathanael~

My thoughts as a follower of Christ in regards to ISIL / ISIS

I’ve spent some time contemplating what the response of Christians in light of ISIL & the 21 Coptic martyrs, here’s my short list:
1. Forgive ISIL; it skews their humanity & takes away from their Imago Dei-ness and ours if we don’t forgive.
2. Don’t cherry pick the Koran.
3. Don’t assume all of Islam is violent. Realize that extremists in any religion are usually the smallest voice clamoring to be heard, and it’s their extremism that separates the true followers from the rest.
4. Engage the local Muslim community with open hearts and open ears.
5. Cry out to God as to what the hell is going on, use them fighting words and get real about what bothers the fuck out of you.
6. Choose love over hate, and operate out of love not fear or ignorance.

– Nathanael