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Reflection – August 2023

The world does not need to be flat

Most of us know that the world is not flat. Yet we often live as if the world is flat. We can live as if there is nothing beyond the immediate and beyond the imminent. It plays out in our busyness, with no time to wait, no time to sit and relax, no time to admire the beauty of the world around us, even on a cold and wet day. No time to enjoy the company of others. Such things are deemed a waste of time. Such living in the imminent is as if there is nothing transcendent. But is that living?

Such living locks God out. It leaves us to try to find a rational solution to everything. But while we certainly can solve a lot of problems, there are some things we can’t fix. We can’t fix a broken heart. Some things are a mystery.

Our lives are finite, bound by time between birth and death. But God who is infinite is in another time frame, one not bound by such limits. Many live as Deists, that is as if God created the world and is not engaged in the world. We can appreciate such thinking because if God is beyond time, and we are locked into time, how can the two engage?

It is only as God who is infinite, beyond time, who came as fully God and fully human (God-human) that the separation between the infinite of transcendence and the finite of imminent is connected. The basis of the Christian faith is that Christ Jesus is fully God and fully human. Fully God able to do such transcended miracles as healings and teaching, and fully human, fully imminent, who hungered and thirsted, loved a good feast, got tired and needed rest, had friends and enjoyed their company of laughter and tears. The Christian faith is that Jesus, fully God and fully human, was born and lived and died. But that is not the end. The resurrection becomes the defining point. The resurrection is a disclosure that the God-human was indeed God-human, that Jesus is indeed the Christ. That would suggest a connection or a way for those bound by time to connect with God who is not time-bound. That connection is through connection to Christ.

Another important aspect of the connection between God who is transcendent and we who live in the imminent time is through wisdom. There is human wisdom, but human wisdom locked into finite time can’t connect with God who is outside of time. Our worship and daily devotions, prayer and reading the Bible and other devotional aids, synthesised with reason and life experiences and knowledge create in us Godly wisdom. Such Godly wisdom becomes the meeting of the imminent with the transcendent. Having actively waited with the God who is God, we locate ourselves in the place in which we might be encountered by God in the everyday, so that the world of imminence is transformed by the transcended God.

One Christian thinker suggested that Christian’s live in a different time zone to most. It is a time zone open to the transcendent. A time open to the future of God. This compares with a finite time zone that ends in death. The irony of our rushing about is that we rush about to jam more into our limited life, while our rushing limits our living in its fullness, and often shortens our limited life through stress-related illnesses. Stopping to admire the beauty of the day, even when the day is cold and wet, or taking time to have an extended chat with another, is living the transcended life even in the imminent.

If we are rushing about, getting anxious, with no time to stop and wait, perhaps it is an indicator that we are living as if the world is flat, and God is remote. That might be a signal to stop, actively wait on God, look, listen, pray, read the Bible, sit with others.

Blessings, Keith Hamilton