My sister once explained her approach to spirituality: “Jim, I’ll tell you where I see God. I see God inside the people around me, inside myself.”
Similarly, at the Last Supper, Jesus admonished his disciple Phillip “…Don’t you believe that….the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work.”
Historically, religions have tended to view God as omniscient, almighty, and distant. However, the claim being made in these statements is that the presence of God can reside within a human being.
Is my sister’s claim rooted in the reality of human spirituality, or is it misleading, or just wishful thinking?
Could it be that “divinity” exists nowhere other than within human beings, and there is no such thing as a higher creative power?
Can Jesus say what he does because he is unique (a “special case”) or does each of us have the potential to achieve a oneness with God that is exactly like his?
What metaphysical ‘design feature’ could facilitate God’s becoming “incarnate” within or “manifesting” through a given individual?
Have you personally experienced God’s presence within another person or within yourself? If so, what was the impact of that experience?
Please share your thoughts below
So much of this is rooted in ontology. In the west we have traditionally considered there to be two types of things that exist: spirit and matter. In a human being mind is spirit and body is matter. In this view matter is inert, simple, and formless. Life, mind, even shape and structure have to be added to it from outside. In this view God is necessarily separate from all things and acts on them from outside. So from this perspective I would have to look for God outside of myself. However if we move to a view of existence based on relationship we get a different picture. Instead of being inert, simple, and formless, matter is now complex and composed of atoms (particles) in relationship. Shape and structure then emerge from relationship within something – i.e. rather than acting from outside we now see God acting from inside, and… Read more »
My mind always goes to the verse in I Corinthians 6:19. “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” NKJV. Makes me think of living for the sake of others, and that God can dwell within us,as we prepare the space for our Heavenly Parent. Having that intention of atteding seems really important.
One of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is when Jacob, after being pursued, threatened, cheated, and exiled for 21 years says to his angry and estranged brother “Esau, when I see your face, I see the face of God.” Seeing God in others, and in oneself, is the core of “seeing from God’s viewpoint.” If we glimpse that true, original being in the other, we are forever transformed. We become aware that there is a sacredness to each human, an eternal content that is indestructible. When enemies can do that–miracles happen.
I believe God wants to be in all of us. But He is repelled by sinfulness. Several times I have felt God’s presence closely, but eventually He drifts away.
There are many concepts of God. John 14:2 says it well: “My Father’s house has many rooms”. One definition of God is: when we act in an honorable and compassionate way, who are we trying to please?
A friend of mine once asked me “If there is a God, why can’t we hear Him? Why doesn’t He speak to us?” My response was that the transmitter is working but the receiver is broken. A little over a hundred years ago the radio came out, and by the 1920s it revolutionized communication and entertainment. But if, at the beginning of the 19th century, Mr. Marconi told someone that they could speak into a box and be heard miles away they would ask, “Where are the wires?” I clearly believe that God is actually IN each of us, a PART of each of us. But either we haven’t turned on the receiver at all or there’s just too much static. Dr. Chung Shik Yong says we need to tune in to the right frequency and that frequency is Zero. I believe God is in me and when I empty… Read more »
I would modify your sister’s comment to indicate that we see God’s influence in the people around us. Some are influenced by God, others are not. At the Last Supper, I assume that Jesus meant that His Father’s influence, His Father’s values, were so ingrained in Him, or so much a part of Him (Jesus), that it could be said that “that Father is in me.” But if, as a Christian, I accept the Old Testament, then Moses (Exodus 33:11) and Jacob (Genesis 32:30) saw God “face to face.” I have to believe that God’s influence can be everywhere, but we have to choose it.
Hi Jason, So you think that God can influence people, but not incarnate in them. And also that we choose whether or not be influenced by God? I wonder if the people my sister was referring to were God loving, or were they simply pure hearted and conscientious?
If they were “God loving,” they likely were pure hearted and conscientious, or at least trying to be so. If you love God, you will try to be good to others. Someone once said if, “If a person is kind to you, but rude to the waiter, he is not a kind person.” Jesus spoke against hypocrisy. We are all somewhere different on the continuum of goodness. I’m not sure what you mean by “incarnate in them.” In my opinion, God does not enter into us. He is a separate being. But his influence, the holy spirit, may influence us and direct us, if we chose to be directed by his influence. The question is: Who are what is God? If you believe he is some amorphous essence, then I suppose he could be in us. But that seems inconsistent to me with the scriptures that I believe in, that… Read more »
Jason, after reading your post I thought of God as inner light then at Mass I received so many confirmations. The Bible is full of references to God as inner light and God’s light can and does enter us.
1 John 1:5 ESV / 22 helpful votes
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
John 17 is my favorite chapter in the Bible because it is Jesus’ prayer for us to experience God inside us and God inside each other. I have experienced this and it surprised me at first and I didn’t know how to understand it until I read it in Jesus words. It is a oneness with the presence of Christ and the Father inside myself and a feeling of the other person in the presence of Christ and the Father inside me too, and all around me. It is deeply nourishing, it is life giving and bring the peace of Christ. It is the oneness beyond concepts, a oneness in God. John17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am… Read more »
This is an interesting point, as to whether and how God could be “in us”. I think human have a tendency to default to materialistic thinking, i.e., atoms, matter, location, distance, etc. If God has no tangible form, either here or in the spirit world, then we must adjust this kind of thinking to a different direction; more qualitatively and internally. My book, “Angelic DNA” speaks to this area in some depth.
That is a serious question, Jason. Perhaps good for it’s own discussion on this website. I consider God to be a being, as you said a seperate being, with an essense. And that essense is “heart”, a desire to love. And he created “Adam” and “Eve” IN HIS IMAGE(Gen1), sort of like the second in a pair of tuning forks. By creating A&E in His image, he gave them the capacity or potential to resonate with His love. Perhaps like the second tuning fork vibrates at the exact same pitch at the first, once struck. I guess that is what I meant by “incarnate” – sharing the same vibration of love. In that way, perhaps Jesus was a perfectly complementary tuning fork who could fully resonate with God’s love. Therefore, he could say “the Father is in me.” As you said, I guess we have to choose to be influenced… Read more »