Tuesday, February 20, 2007

God's Personality and Voice

Continued from the post: The Measure of All Things

by Troy Chapman

(published January 06)

... More personally, we can measure our personal life strategies by the same standard. The level of our commitment to love is an exact reflection of how spiritually healthy and happy we will be. It is also a reflection of how harmful or beneficial our presence in the world is.

So, for me, love is the sun of my mental, spiritual, moral, social, and political solar system. When I ask, How can I be more happy and healthy? my answer is: By bringing love more fully to bear in my mind and actions. When I ask, How can I be more virtuous and better serve God? my answer is: By learning to love more. When I ask, How can I become enlightened? my answer is: By letting more love in because love is the light of my universe. When I ask, How can our society be made more just and our world more sane? my answer is: By people learning to be more creative and committed to the application of love to our problems. When love becomes the sole means of all human endeavor we will have accomplished all these things.

For me love is the manifestation of God; it is God’s personality and presence and when the Scriptures speak of “the image of God” within us, they are speaking of our ability and potential to love. Love is the only way to serve God and the only way to become more like God. Indeed, though this may make some people uncomfortable, I say we’re not wrong to even pray to love because love is another name for God. When we listen to it we’re listening to God. When we seek it we’re seeking God. When we embrace it we’re embracing God.

Often during the day I catch myself whispering: Love, show me the way. Expand your kingdom through me. Keep me on your path.

Maybe this is just a way to keep myself focused but it seems to me that if love is the manifestation of God it is more than an emotion. It’s an intelligent energy and it does answer such appeals. Love speaks to me and as far as I’m concerned it is the voice of God.

When we talk about people “playing God” when they exercise absolute power over others we display a complete misconception of God. Those who truly play God are those who make a total and radical commitment to love and abandon all other power. They put their faith in love and conform their thinking to it, they lay down their lives for it and sacrifice themselves on its altar. And in so doing they find themselves, because every other path in life is a path away from ourselves.

Our task, if we care about personal and collective spiritual self-realization, is to figure out how love works. It is to study love the way Mozart studied music; to explore its endless and largely untapped possibility.

The degree to which we learn to see the world through love, to apply it creatively in the world, and commit ourselves to it as serious disciples, is the degree to which we will witness our spiritual self-realization. It is the degree to which we will move toward the image of God within us and move our world closer to the kingdom of God that has been the longing of the millennia.

The quote from Paul earlier compared love to other things Christians at that time considered valuable — speaking in tongues, prophesy, faith, charity, and a martyr’s death. If he were writing to us instead of the Corinthians he might have said: If I become wealthy and successful, but have not love, I am nothing. If I become famous and have more power than anyone else, but have not love, I’ve wasted my life. If I have lots of comfort and pleasure, but have not love, I’ve squandered my potential.

Or, if he were speaking to our society he might have said: If we defeat terrorism, build lots of prisons and walled communities to keep us safe, win the war on drugs, and learn to control all people, but have not love, we have failed.

Love is the “one thing” Rumi warns us never to forget. It is the fire that lights up the image of God within us and when it goes out this image fades into darkness and we lose sight of our very selves. But the embers remain, waiting for breath and for fuel, waiting for us to return from the cold night of distraction that our lives have become.

So, to Quote Rumi again:

Come, whoever you are! Wanderer,
Worshiper, Lover of Leaving
This is not a caravan of despair.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken
your vow a thousand times, still
and yet again