Dumbing Down God’s Omnipresence ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dumbing Down God’s Omnipresence

There is something remarkable about the pervasive presence of God, and I mean something besides its existence. Consider, in addition to the mind-bending reality of God’s presence everywhere in his creation, the fact that it is habitually downplayed and overlooked.

Most of us are cautious about provoking our friends’ disapproval: the averted faces, raised eyebrows, and awkward silences are a censure that few of us care to casually risk. Instead, we circumvent it. We cram embarrassing behavior into a quiet sector of our lives and label it “private.”

As it turns out, this designation is purely arbitrary. Nothing we do is really private.

We often—no, we typically—forget the closest friend of all, the One who watches everyone. Not a sparrow dies without his knowing it. Not a grass blade grows without his noting it. Do we really think he doesn’t notice our backroom behavior? Or perhaps, at some point, it became more comfortable to forget? Yet recalling God’s omnipresence is vital.

After every offense, God waits for the perpetrator to turn and meet his eye. God waits with an offer of grace that must be approached through the pain of guilt admitted. His admonishment, when it comes, is much less infantile than human reprimand—and much more stinging. How else could it be, when my Creator and Master, my very Owner, looks at me with sorrow in his face?

When I, as a sinner, grow aware of my Savior’s glance, my heart will bow low and I will weep like Peter did at the sound of a cock’s crow. But as I do so, I will also remember the heavenly morning on the beach, when Christ returned, caught Peter’s eye again, and healed his shame with forgiveness. The healing was not painless, but it was transforming.

If Peter had not met his Master’s gaze, he could never have been the masterful leader, the strong theologian, the rock-solid martyr, that he became. Once Peter learned to look his Savior in the eye, he left his sullen remorse there by the sea, and began to live like an inspired man. What was more, he learned an invaluable lesson: that no matter where he went or who he spoke to or what was done to him, he was never alone.

Neither are we ever alone. If we fail to grapple with the gaze of God, to turn to Christ for mercy in the moment of trouble (Hebrews 4:16), we will never progress beyond a sense of brooding guilt—psychologically buried, perhaps, with busy work. We will spend our hours pulling on empty nets and wondering what could have been.

I often think that societal mores, dutifully observed in public, are a poor man’s substitute for the countercultural renewal of repentance. We invest our lives in embarrassment-avoidance, when deliberate investments in the bank of repentance would lead miraculous dividends: the friendship of Christ himself.

He stands beside you now, after all.

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