Spirit Alive: Is Your God Too Small?
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
July 26, 2016
With Heart, Soul, and Mind:
Even though Phillips wrote this book over fifty years ago, the same dilemma seems to lie before us today: A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design. Now Wilczek isn't just a casual observer of nature, he was the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 (amazingly, he received it for his work as a graduate student). He is now the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT, so he thinks about these matters in a deep manner...both scientifically and philosophically.
And in the midst of it all, we struggle to make sense of life as we bump up against conflicting truths and understandings all the time. Yet, woven together these understandings ultimately help us describe our world. In the process, we get to enjoy the mystery, surprise, and spirit that is at the very essence of life.
The problem and tension associated with this takes place because we live in community with one another and don't always see things the same way. Because of this, it is easy to lose track of the notion that the world is a "work of art," full of opposing, deep truths. Instead, we frequently pay more attention to the arguments and struggles we have with one another over the differences that divide us and our various understandings. In fact, there are lots of "basics" that we simply don't agree on among ourselves. But Phillips' questions still lurk just below the surface: How does our concept of God fit into our understanding and experience of life today? And, is God big enough to be relevant in a world such as this?
On one level there is no simple response, no clean explanation, no comforting words that can make sense of it all. But, at the same time, as long as our worlds continue to expand, much like the universe itself, then our concept of the world and our understanding of God will never be confined by the realities we face, even when they feel overwhelming.
This is precisely why mission and ministry is so important. These activities, by their very nature, take us outside ourselves, our churches, and our worldviews. And this is a critical aspect of being a healthy, vital church...let alone being one that appreciates the "work of art" that the world truly is. Through our encounters with others our universe becomes a "multiverse" and we naturally change...and in the process our understanding of God grows as well.
I had the privilege of attending our recent Western Jurisdictional Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. It
It is clear that our expanding understanding of the world will not be pain-free, but together we can serve as guides for one another in "this unknown world." The God we worship is only as big as the world that we are able to comprehend and live in, even when it seems to be full of conflicting truths and expanding realities.
In the end, I want to walk with a God who is bigger than me. I want to live in a world that I don't fully understand. I want to discover mystery in everyday life, which means I need to be out-and-about, engaging the world, and discovering news things...challenging the assumptions that I've made about life and others! In fact, I'm beginning to think that God starts shrinking the moment I start standing still.
Blessings on your journey,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at firstname.lastname@example.org