You see Jesus, you see God
It is widely accepted in post modern Christian thoughts that "God is the heart of reality". But without defining reality and God, the statement has no foundation. On the contrary, God has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus. Christ is the reality of God. When you see Jesus, you have seen God. Many have looked for God at the wrong places and even consider Him a mystery, not understanding that when Jesus was born 2000 years ago, "Christ with Us" or Emmanuel became our reality of God. As gay Christians, we have to be honestly clear about God. For we minister Christ to them, not metaphorically or as a mystery, but one who loves them and accepts them as who they are and demand them not to change to what they are not.
What is reality? The Oxford dictionary defines the word as
Is God the heart of reality? To some, the fundamental foundation of Christianity is the reality of God. i.e. without God, Christianity does not make sense. God becomes the heart of reality. However without defining God, the arguments become illogical. On the contrary, without Christ, there is no reality of God. We cannot see god, we cannot touch Him and know Him until He appears to mankind as man. Therefore, Emmnuel, "God with Us" in Christ Jesus is the heart of reality.
In the Bible belt of America 95% of the people believe in God whereas in certain parts of Europe only 35% do. It is claimed that most of us develop a way of looking at reality through our cultural world view and from a religious tradition. Whilst there may be some hardcore atheist, many believed in God. But for many, the traditional notion of God as "being out there", and all powerful but seemingly indifferent and separate to the sufferings just does not work anymore. However, God is the same, yesterday, today, and tommorow. He is the constant, whilst our feelings, perception may change over time. It is therefore important to have a clear picture of God that transends our cultural view and religious traditions and not create God in our own image.
In response, theologians have attempted to define the "reality of God" by an ancient way of perceiving God - Panentheism. It is the belief that the being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part of it exists in God - i.e. the heart of reality, the ultimate being that exists in everything. In this way, they can explain although God did not intervene in natural and man made disasters, in essense He being part of creation cared and suffered with the people. Therefore God is considered the ultimate reality, the foundation of our being and independent of space and time, not only "out there" but also "right here". This argument is again illogical. If God is a part of creation, he is also the very substance causing the natural and man made disasters. This is a contradiction. How can God who created mankind and substance itself, be considered part of man kind and His creation?.
There may not be an easy answer for the dualism of God but remaking God is a denial of reality. But could there be other more logical explanation for a God who does not consistently intervened in earthly affairs? that an all powerful God cannot contradict Himself and can operate only within a legal framework of cause and effect. As earth is by defacto not in God's control but Satan's, how can God rigtheously violate the rights of satan by intervening in the affairs on a kingdom which He does not own. Selah.
The concept of God being the "heart of reality" is also inconsistent with the biblical God and the concepts of covenant relatioships. It is a "wholesale God" who is in contrast to the biblical God, in whatever manner He is encountered, worshipped, loved, feared, is a God who chooses, who instructs, who alters the course of events. Therefore the bible does not readily resolve itself into some abstract metaphoric existence, and universal notions of God. The danger of making God the heart of reality is that we put God into small boxes into our reality that we can morally accept and justify our faith. Can our reality be itself a delusion of what we choose to believe in order to harmonise our theology and not giving room to a God that is outside our limited experiences, and knowledge. God becomes our "image" or "God within" rather than Jesus, our Emmanuel "God with Us". The God of the bible is presented not as the heart and substance of all reality nor a force that binds everything. Rather, God is a living person separate from His creation, but the creator. It would be absurd for the clay that is being molded by the Potter to ever claim to be the Potter. In doing so, we become god.
Is "God, the heart of Christianity?" Without defining God, the question has no meaning. Our ideas of God has indeed been shaped by our culture and tradition. However, God is not simply a name for our creation, a name for the supreme being. But it is also not the mysterious God which all the world's religion strive to convey within the cultures and experiences. Our God is Emmanuel, the word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ and no longer a mystery. To consider God a mystery is to demean the incarnation of God in Christ and His subsequent death and resurrection. The character and nature of God, the reality of God is personified in the word becoming flesh, in Christ Jesus. Therefore, God with Us, Christ Jesus is the heart of Christianity.
The heart of Christianity is not God in a mysterious sense or the inadequate formulation of our forefathers. Without Christ, our concept of God will always be a mystery filled with debates. It is not for us to make sense of God as much as it is illogocial for me to try to make sense of my partner because I already know him well and deeply in love with Him as a result of my relatiohsip. Similarly, we may never make sense of God without a deep fellowship with Christ, the reality of God.
We could examine all the fields of knowledge, but God has already given us knowledge about Himself though the Bible, the written word and revealed Himself, in flesh through Jesus Christ, His Son. God did not leave us to wander aimlessly trying to make sense of God. He gave us the Holy Spirit to reveal to us more and more of Jesus, the incarnate word of God. We have sought God in all the wrong places. We live by Grace because we have a God who does not give us what we deserved, i.e. judgement because we have constantly ignored the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit nor ever thought of having fellowship with Him. You see Jesus, you see God.
For many the character of God is not only the intrinsic nature of God, but that which shapes our reason for our faithfulness to God. Often love is emphasised as that of God but usually not in the biblical context. When John referred to God as love, He was referring to love as revealed by His relationship with Christ Jesus. It is not just love given by a mysterious God. It is love experienced by John when he accepted Christ as who He is, His saviour. It is a love that is deepend and understood in the context of the reality of his friendship and love of Jesus. Christianity is not just an invitation to a transformed life, it is an invitation to die to ourselves that we may be a new creation transformed in an instance of time through Christ death at the Cross. It is all of Grace for we deserved nothing. It is not a process of transformation, but a new birth as a child of God.
Although the greatest is Love, Love does not negate the need for Christ to die for us. Righteousness is so important that God sent is sent Jesus to die for us. It was to fulfill the requirement of righteouesness that God need to die. It was love that motivated Jesus but it could never give result a waiver. There must be justice. In summary, "God is love" and we truly lived by grace alone but this does not mean that "Love is God". Therefore, Christianity is an invitation to identify with Jesus, His death and resurrection, that we may enter into a relationship with Jesus resulting in a transformed life.
It is not practical nor possible to "know God" in an intimate sense without going deeper to "know about God". Without understanding doctrine and the revelation of God through Christ, we will more often or not come to God with a misguided concept. Like a child always imagining that his parents don't love him, he will not be able to know and have a better relationship with his parents. Doctrine is not useless when faced with difficult circumstances and need. It will determine how we respond. It is right belief i.e. right doctrine that results in right living and correct values. It is when we go through tough and difficult times that our beliefs are really tested and we ourselves refined.
How do we know God? When Jesus departed He did not leave us empty handed. He left us with a helper just like Him. We are meant to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit just as the disciples had fellowship with Jesus. But we seldom do! The Jews had the scripture to study and to understand God's nature, they could commune with prayer, they are strong people of action and involvement. Yet, when Jesus was born, they wanted to kill Him. They did not know the heart of god, a heart of mercy and justice. They never understood because they never saw God. They have made god in their own limited mindset, their own reality. Let us not do the same but let Emmanuel be the heart of our reality. Indeed, Jesus may never have left. It is just that we left Him and created a deluded reality of a mysterious God.
Why do we as Gay Christians have to be honestly clear about who God is? We have to minister to a marginalized group who is totally unclear and misguided in their view of God by what they see in the mainstream churches. We have to seek the true reality of God rather than being inclusive of all various Christian denominations without rexamining our faith in the context of a very hostile response to Gays in the wider Christian community. Applying intellectual and abstract ideas do not work because the reality is that people need the Lord, not a god of our creation, they need to receive Jesus and they need to be fed concerning Jesus that their lives may be transformed. It is the tangible presence of God that changes lives, not a metaphoric creation of our deluded reality. They need "real" food.
I know not why God's wondrous grace
I know not how this saving faith