Christ is within us and in the spaces between us.
I’ve been traveling back and forth between a kind of agnosticism towards Christianity (thanks in no small part to an epistemological awakening of sorts) and a reflective contemplation of the teachings of Jesus. As I’ve navigated these uncertainties, I found that my desire to return to a sense of “knowing the truth” has decreased, and I am perfectly content to remain in the tension between the two ideologies.
On the one hand, there’s the intellectual draw of a kind of “Christian atheism,” one that looks critically at the historical Jesus event and analyzes retellings of the story through the lens of cold, distant archaeology. On the other hand, there’s the unavoidability of mysticism, a desire to know what lies beyond—but not “beyond,” in some vague sense of a “life after death.” Rather, the “beyond” of being truly present, truly here and now, beyond the misery of the past or the worries of the future.
Perhaps for me, that is where faith resides. After all, the great teacher Jesus himself taught that finding one’s self in this moment is that which is to be most highly treasured. That the kingdom of God is here in this moment. In our relationships, in our conversations, in our interactions with the planet.
Perhaps this is what St. John meant when he wrote, “God is love.” That God isn’t a transcendent, almighty being. But that God is being itself. The state of truly being present. Love.
We think in such dualistic, binary terms. It’s why concepts like good and evil, beautiful and ugly, smart and stupid are so easy for us to wrap our minds around. But when we try to conceptualize infinity, suffering, God, sexuality, Love, mystery, we are at a loss for words and ideas.
I hope that I can one day let go of this dualism. Cheap, fast-food Christianity thinks in such terms. It treats with such primacy the question of “Where will I go after I die?” as though Jesus cared about such things. It wants concrete answers, so it manufactures questions to arrive at its desired answers.
But Jesus wasn’t concerned with such things. He longed to introduce people to the present, to the moment. To show people that God is in the moment. Jean Pierre de Caussade wrote, “If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.”
It is in our nature to not be present. It is in our nature to worry about or plan for the future. But God is not there. Jesus spoke of the future only once: to tell us to not worry about it. Worrying about the future forces us back into our egoic, dualistic minds.
It is in our nature to dwell on the past. But God is not there. Jesus taught us to forgive the past, not to atone for it. To release the past, not to agonize over it.
“God is Love,” but you cannot love if you are stuck in the past or the future. To love is to be fully present right here, right now. To love is to be present within yourself and in the space between you and those around you. But to occupy that space, you must find yourself in the present—away from the past, away from the future. Fully in the moment. Because God is in the moment. God is right here, right now.