How many of you who deny or reject God would want, if it were possible, to know, love, and serve a Being who not only loves but was the very incarnation of Love, a Person who not only was good but was goodness itself?
If you’ve read other writings of mine, most of the time when I use the word ‘God’ I do not mean an exceptionally powerful creature with an ego problem or anything like that. Perhaps, it will make things clearer if, in this post, I don’t use the word ‘God’ or any words associated with that word at all to describe the thing of which I am thinking and which I am putting forward for your consideration, but I’m not sure how to do that. There’s only so many words in the world, or at least in any given language.
If there were, not only an abstract ideal of goodness (or maybe a relative idea of goodness; I really don’t care about the relativity/objectivity discussion here, though if you are interested in my thoughts on it, see this) but a concrete, living Person who was Goodness – if Goodness were a real Person – would you want to find this Person and swear your complete and undying allegiance to this Person, to Goodness, to do whatever Goodness wanted or desired, without any hesitation? Of course, I don’t mean without verifying that the commands came from Goodness and not from some pretender, some rebel, claiming to be Goodness, or from someone who misunderstood Goodness and so, while he might be trying to do right, could not be trusted.
How many of you, who reject an idea of God or the existence of God altogether, reject and deny God because he is not good enough? Perhaps, he hated people simply for not having heard the right historical facts; perhaps, he created people for the purpose of throwing them into hell; perhaps, he demanded worship because he was insincere and needed his ego and pride, his self-image, stoked; perhaps, any number of other things more or less of this order. Or, perhaps, you reasoned that any God in whom you could not believe if you held a particular theory of how the world had been made, or how it functioned, could not really be God at all. I’m not going to try to give the whole list of reasons to reject ‘God’; I could not ever hope to think of them all!
But what if Goodness asks for your allegiance and tells you that it is evil to refuse to give Goodness your allegiance? After all, this is Goodness! This is not a being, different perhaps from you as you are different from animals, or trees, or even rocks, but more or less of the same substance as you. This Person does not ask for your allegiance out of a need for subjects; this Person asks for your allegiance because this Person is Goodness and it is good to do and serve Goodness, and it is bad to reject Goodness. If there is a Person who is Goodness or who is Love, then the very categories of self-interest and egotism (self-love, self-exaltation) versus humility and altruism (love of others, unselfish love) break down. If there is a Person who is Love, then, for that Person, the distinction between doing something for oneself and doing something for others becomes nonsense, because to that Person to Love is self-fulfillment, to do and be for Love is at once to do and be for oneself and to do and be for another.
It is then this, a Person who is Love, Love and Goodness as real, living, concrete, and Personal, rather than merely an impersonal abstraction, whom I offer to you as worthy of your allegiance. It is this which I invite you to come and see, to get to know.
Essentially, this is what and in whom I believe. From infancy, I have known that Love is real. From earliest thought, I have known that the greatest manifestation or glory of Love – if not the greatest, then the greatest which can appear to my eyes in this world – is when Love freely submits to suffering and torture to save or be with the Beloved – for in the language of Love, to save the Beloved and to with be the Beloved are not distinguishable. It is in this that Love most fully and truly shows itself to be Love. I was already enthralled by Love.
Thus, when I heard the story of the God of Love (the God Who is Love) who came to earth to be united with His creatures, who took to Himself all their suffering and sin so that He could be with them and be one with them in everything, and give to them Himself – Love, and the joy and peace which is in Love, I knew it was Truth. It resonated with everything I had always known. It was not, in fact, different from what I had known: it was what I had always known taking a concrete form within human history.
This, then, is why I believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Eternal Son of God, who lived a perfect human life, died a human death upon a cross, bearing the sorrows and transgressions of the world, and rose from the dead. It has nothing to do with the Bible or anything else. If there is anything in the Bible, anything in the teaching of Christians, which runs counter to the Love I adore, then I do not believe it – without it ever affecting my belief in Jesus Christ, my belief in Love, for I do not believe in Jesus Christ because of a Bible, or the teaching of some Teaching Authority, or anything like that. I believe in Him because I have always known that Love of which His story is the incarnation. If you say, “But if not for the Bible – or whoever it was that told you – you would not believe in Him,” I answer, “You are correct, if you mean I would not know the details of His life and death and would not be able to say anything about them. But if you mean that I would not know that something like Him has to be true, that I would not believe that Love is real and shows itself to be supremely Love in suffering to be with the Beloved, then, no, you are not correct. I would indeed have believed that. I believed that before I knew the details. I recognized the details as truth because I already knew that of which they are the details, the literal embodiment in our world.”
But if you do not see how Jesus Christ, how the Crucified One, is the supreme manifestation of Goodness, Love in a human body dwelling among us, then it is probably better for you not to try to believe in Him until you do know Him as very Love and Goodness. To deny the Truth we know, to refuse the Love we have found, to reject the Goodness we see, is a grave evil. Even if something is true, if we do not yet know it to be true, then trying to put it in the place of the True is in fact a lie – which is, in essence, to deny the Truth we know. We should always be open to seeing more of the Good, to knowing Love better.
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale