I have a problem with talk of ‘a just God’.
This is because the seeming injustice of mercy is central to my faith. It seems to me that God is not just…at least, not in human ways. God is, of course, just – as nature is balanced and as energy flows – but we cannot conceive of this justice. It is a sublime justice, which goes eons beyond our ken and our laughably-puny laws and visions. It is a justice which is love. It is a justice which offers forgiveness for all at the ultimate price – the sacrifice of self that God made in making it possible for us to end Jesus’ life.
This beyondness, this super-humanity, is perhaps why we talk of a ‘God of surprises’, of a Christ who ‘turns the world upside down’. This talk seems strange to me. If we are speaking of God here, of I AM, of a God that IS, of a God that is extra-human and is more than an idol we make in our own image, then the only option I can conceive of is that this God is pretty much entirely beyond our understanding, and is therefore not likely to play by our rules or neatly to acquiesce to ordering things in what we consider to be the ‘right way up’ (though I have had times when it has felt precisely as though God were ‘playing by my rules’…because that was all I could understand, presumably).
Furthermore, it seems to me that when we experience God as immanent, when we acknowledge ourselves to be in encounter with our God, then what is happening must be that we are allowing ourselves, for a moment, to reduce our blocks to that-which-IS. I don’t think it can be that God has changed, or moved into view, or come closer to us, or behaved strangely, but that we have changed, have allowed God into our view, have drawn closer to what IS, have behaved somehow differently to how we have previously. When God appears to us to ‘act’, suddenly; when God does something we didn’t expect…surely this must be a comment on our expectations and on our paucity of understanding regarding the nature of God rather than on the actual nature of God?
I’m ok with that. I make no claim or attempt (or even feel any desire) to try to ‘understand’ God. If God could be understood by my broken, human, sinful mind, then it seems to me that God would not BE, would not be God. The Mystery is surely essential, inherent, integral…isn’t it? Jesus’ resurrection is the only ‘firm’ answer I am currently able to see: it is answer for me in that I am aware that it is beyond my understanding. We ended life, we tried to play God..and God was beyond that. This, for me, holds me in inescapable mindfulness of my own smallness…thank Goodness!
What I don’t understand – and please forgive me for this, I recognise my weakness and narrow-mindedness here – is why that would be a scary or difficult thing for some (many, it would seem) people to countenance.
If you can help me to break through my own unseeing here, please do offer your comments. Thanks!
Reflections after my retreat (and after a really intense day!):
I live in a world which isn’t safe.
I need to learn to reconcile myself with that.
That is where I will find strength and life.
I can’t fix things.
Things can’t be fixed.
People are broken. We sin.
That isn’t going to change. People are always going to make mistakes, or be bad; let you down; wilfully blind themselves. I can’t get away from that; I can’t be ‘safe’, when ‘safe’ is understood to be ‘free from risk of damage’.
But there is forgiveness; there is restoration; there is redemption. There is love.
Love that makes no sense at all. Love that is a total miscarriage of justice. Love that ignores the rules and upsets apple-carts and tears down the curtain in the temple.
I can, however, be safe in my wholeness. I can love. I can learn to love. I can love and be the me within. I can recognise truth when I see it; I can refuse to accept untruth. I can rest in the silence, I can rest in God. I can make peace; I can be peace; I can give and share peace. And I can hold peace and love inside – take some, just for me, and hog it, holding onto it because there’s enough; because it is abundant rather than scarce; because my having it increases supply; because I need it and that’s a good enough reason.
A wise person told me that to know the truth of redemption isn’t something one can think, it can only be discovered.
Is it that in letting go we are held most safely?
I hadn’t reckoned on the damagingness of the silence; of the obligation to mind silently the things I have seen which I wish I had not seen.
It isn’t safe to trust anyone; I feel bound to loneliness. I feel as though my life has been stolen by what has been done, and no-one in all the world knows it, or else it is invisible to them. So it must be with God that I wrestle, or my inner soul. I need to work these things out because they are tying me, are draining me, are pulling me back and keeping me away from and out of love.
So now we have named them, we can see what they are: they are Evil. They are Deception. They are Untruth.
It’s good to have found the ground on which to stand. Now, of course, I must forgive. Is it ok to be angry first? Do I have to be angry first?
And I’m back to the same question: if we forgive without recognition, without “justice”, we are not safe from future attacks, so then we build protections and barriers and soon we are the perpetrators of these Sins and others are building barriers against us. So how does forgiveness work, actually? I don’t think I understand.