Alone with God ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, May 29, 2006

Alone with God

Full moon in tree

In a very real way, becoming a Christian makes you more alone.

I think that we are like stars in the night sky. All around is darkness; the unfailing backdrop of our lives is this relational distance. True, we can fight it. We can even partially bridge it, but never completely, so that we are fully known. In the end, only Christ can surmount it. But at first, he removes the comforting glare of the streetlights and we are plunged into night.

We discover that the societal "warmth" and "light" that we enjoy are, at best, poor replacements for real warmth and light. What I’m saying is, we gain Christ, but we lose the world, and the comfortable illusions of intimacy that go with it.

Before Jesus enters the scene, we go through life in a careless haze, and then Christ’s light blazes up—an otherworldly light—and we come face to face with our selfishness, and realize that evil has grown deep roots. The light is brilliant and very beautiful, but the self-realization is frightening. The human heart has depths no one can plumb. No mere human, anyway.

No one can speak to this heart-reality but Christ. But when he does, we begin to see how addicted and deceived and wrongheaded and, yes—how evil—we have been. We stand awkwardly and feel Christ’s searchlight on our souls.

We feel him calling us, drawing us out of our Godforsaken solitude, into a set-apart relationship with himself. This believing, this leaving of the old, is a drastically individual act. We discover a new dimension of self-awareness: a consciousness of ourselves in relation to God. The surface illusions of deep connectedness with culture, with fads, with self-serving relationships, are scrubbed away, and we find ourselves in a new paradox: alone with God.

But this redeeming friendship is not allowed to grow up in isolation. Ironically, while we answered Christ’s call alone, as individuals, we are not permitted to keep following him this way. We utter individuals are called into radical community.

It is called “the church,” and it is frightening and fundamentally good. As lone stars, we seem to strike sparks when we approach each other—but Jesus calls us to do just that. Get near to the others and stay there, no pulling away. This kind of proximity brings back to us, at first, the initial fear that we experienced when Christ’s searchlight began scanning our heart’s dark closets. To be this close to God’s people is to be exposed.

Nevertheless, we begin to grow in the unfading light of this exposure. And the growth, because it is tested by the jostling and querying of the church, is real. In community, we minister to (and emphasize) our own individuality, but the pain of loneliness begins to be washed away. We are stars, learning to be the milky way.

And above us, around us, and through us all, flows the energy of a transforming fire more powerful than any sun.



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8 comments:

Verashni said...

I was torn between over-commenting on your blog and telling you how brilliant this was. The latter urge won out. Once again you have hit the nail right on the head. I was having this mini-crisis about relationships in the church, last night, and this just put it all in perspective. Thank you.

Ariel said...

Over-commenting? Is it really possible to over-comment on this blog?

Actually, I know what you mean. And don't worry, you're in the clear. In fact, you could post several more of your typically thoughtful comments per week before you would be in danger of an over-commenting citation. ;) Thanks, Verashni.

Andrew Simone said...

Over commenting is sort of like worrying about your employer giving you too much money.

Verashni said...

Ok, Andrew Simone that was REALLY funny :) Thank you Ariel, I will comment as "I feel lead to"... don't you just love Christianese? No? Me neither. Showed this post to my 'accountability partner' and she was similarly blown away.

Andrew Simone said...

Thanks for the kind words. Regarding being blown away, Ariel does have a the knack

Jack Yan said...

Ariel, I believe you also find fellowship via the blogs and connect with a Christian community that way. I was amazed to find how big it is on the blogosphere.
   I take comfort in knowing I live in the light and by example.

Ariel said...

"Ariel, I believe you also find fellowship via the blogs and connect with a Christian community that way..."

That's a legitimate point, Jack. I think the internet facilitates a certain meeting of the minds... It's hard to beat real, face to face conversation, though! I often think this when I'm having worldview/theology discussions online.

These conversations would be even better if they took place in a coffee shop. :)

Jack Yan said...

I do agree, Ariel: if we were all in a café, we would have an even greater connection in our discussions. But for the time being, it is great just to have a connection over the internet, and finding like minds around the world.

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife