Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Eternal You

I have a bit of a commute to work but I actually enjoy it as long as I am not running late.  I have found that some of my best moments of peace and thought are during my drive.  The view is a great and I love being absorbed into it.  There is so much beauty in the world if you just take the time to notice it.

Earlier this year, I attended a lecture by theologian Marcus Borg.  During the question and answer session of the evening a man asked “how can we come to know God?”  Borg responded that God is immanent in everything around us and that the best way to come to know God is to “pay attention”.  I really like that.  It is very simple but important.  It reminds me of what Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).  God can be seen all around if we have the ability to see.

Hugh B. Brown once said: “Awareness and aliveness are two of the fundamental requisites for this atomic age, and aliveness is in large measure determined by awareness.” [1]  Think of that, what it means to live and to be alive.  It is no small thing.  And how much greater is the gift of life for those who understand what a gift it is?  To be in this world.  Awareness is a way to understand and encounter God.

God can be encountered in nature and the beauty of the universe but also and especially in other living beings like ourselves.  Jesus said the greatest command is to love God with all you heart, soul and mind.  And the second commandment is like unto it -- love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).  How is the second commandment like unto it?  I think it is because by loving our neighbor that we love God.  In fact Jesus taught this principle in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).  John also taught that “if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love he brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).

Every encounter that we have with another person is an opportunity to come to know God.  But the relationships we have must be of a certain kind.  Using people to manipulate them or get something we want is not a way to truly come to relate to them.  Using another person as a means is an example of an I-It relationship, as taught by Martin Buber.  But a real relationship is an I to a You, an I-You relationship, a true encounter.  These I-You encounters lead to a relationship with the Eternal You who is God.

“Extended, the lines of relationships intersect in the eternal You.  Every single You is a glimpse of that.  Through every single You the basic word addresses the eternal You.  The mediatorship of the You of all beings accounts for the fullness of our relationships to them.” [2]  The understanding of the encounter with God, the Eternal You, in relationships with those around me is most meaningful to me.  It especially fits well into the idea of marriage as a covenant between two people and their God.  But in other ways as well, this idea applies.  The beggar in the street, the sick and afflicted, the lonely, all our children of God and bear the image of God.  God can be encountered in these people if we are pure in our hearts to see them.

[1]  Brown, Hugh B. “...Become the Sons of God” BYU Student Body, November 13, 1956.

[2]  Buber, Martin.  I and Thou. Translated by Walter Kaufmann. p. 123

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