I am concerned that the spatial metaphors we use when talking about God give people the wrong idea. For example, we pray for God’s Spirit to come into our lives, our homes, our churches, our communities as though God is not already there. Of course, God is beyond our understanding, greater than we can ever imagine. God is transcendent. But that is not the whole story. We are not talking about physical distance. In Ephesians 4:6 we read that God the Father of all is above all and through all and in all. It’s not enough to say that God is above all; God is through all creation and in all creation. That includes us human beings. God is different from creation but not separate from it. You do not have to travel a great distance to be in contact with God for, “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet” (Tennyson). When we pray for the Spirit of God to descend upon us we should be aware that what we are asking for is not the infusion of that which is absent. We are asking that we may be more aware of God’s presence. We are opening ourselves up to the Spirit’s empowerment. We are saying that we will give way to the Spirit’s attempt to move us, shape us and direct us. Made in the image of God, we are all God-breathed, Spirit endowed, (to use figures from the creation stories in Genesis). This is so for all people everywhere. Something of God is in everyone. God’s Spirit is present in each and every person that we meet. Often crushed, silenced, ignored, but not removed. And the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. The unity that the Spirit works toward in the Church is the same unity that the Spirit works toward in all humanity and in all creation.
- What are some of the spatial metaphors we use when talking about God?
- In the light of the last sentence above, how would you describe the unity which God wants for his Church?
- Through faith we say that God is through all and in all, but what evidence do you see for this?
- Why is it important that we see God through and in other people?