Volume 1, Issue 1, April 1994


The latest fad in the present-day process of re-inventing the congregation is to bring members together and allow them to raise the questions they feel must be addressed and then to participate in seeking solutions in the area of their personal "passion". The weakness in the method is that often the old, usual questions, like how to get more people to attend church services, with attention focused upon the filling and paying for a building-centred programme, are the ones asked. This is a failure to recognize the basic problem that people's customs and desires have changed and no longer find the old style systems appealing.

Another word that should be inserted at this point is the word "bliss". The rank and file today are interested in their spiritual life and experience, and seek therein to find gladness and bliss.

Christianity is a life rather than a system or an organization. It is more than acts, it is the experience of God in us, the eternal in the temporal, the absolutely worth while that lifts us above ourselves and transfigures our particular acts and purposes.

In this sense the psychologist Jung was right when he declared, "Religion is a defense against the experience of God". It is possible to worship God without naming God, and this is precisely what we do in every honest surrender of inclination to duty, in all devotion to doing what we sincerely believe is right and true. When we live out the highest and best we know to be right within us, the closer we are to God. We hereby make God in our lives to be the end, not the means.

There is a Hindu saying which states: "None but a god can worship a god". Contemplate the meaning of this along with the words of the apostle John when he said: "No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us".

Aurore Larkin, a member of the Grey Nuns, recently professed, "There is no human face. God is a force, or a strength, or an energy". John said God is love. Therein does one find ones bliss.

It is a common mistake to think of God as a noun. The Bible speaks of God in verbal images, in terms of action and events in our experience of living. We attempt to give God a name, to make God an object, and to this the Bible declares, no! When the biblical writers speak of God, they do so in terms either of personal pronouns or of the verb, "to be". When Moses enquired as to God's name, the reply was: "I am who I am". God refuses to be named and is thus called the nameless one.

When we talk about God we must move away from God as the supreme object, and think of God as the supreme subject. We must ponder not the God in the heavens, but the God in me. God is the subject of all that makes life ultimately meaningful.

To think of God in terms of verbal images is to be interested in the fulfillment of our humanity. "To be or not to be," that is the great religious question of the younger generation, and they think in verbal images. In Jesus' life they can discover the meaning of humanity. Here God becomes the subject and not the object; God becomes personal.

The Bible always speaks of God as living, the realism of the ways of life and death. The Bible is not interested in the definition of the word "God". The emphasis is more on doing than in hearing what we believe. Our chief difficulty is not in knowing the true and the right. It is in doing it. When people are loving, brave, truthful, charitable, God is present.

Let us be grateful to feel God's presence in our lives and within the people around us.

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"Religion NOW" is published in limited edition by the Rev. Ross E. Readhead, B.A., B.D., Certificate of Corrections, McMaster University, in the interest of furthering knowledge and participation in religion. Dialogue is invited and welcomed.