Where is our God? Easy enough question: Who Art in Heaven. So, where is heaven? In the sky? In a spirit dimension uncontaminated by mere physical bodies? These locations are too far away. He is much closer. For the real question is not,
Where is heaven? but rather,
Where is He? When we address our Abba as the One who is in heaven, we mean that wherever He is, is heaven.
Where He is, there is healing. Where He is, there is love. Where He is, there our neighbor is respected and served. Where He is, there we do not take property, spouse, truth, or life away from our neighbor. Where He is, there is freedom from slavery and addiction. Where He is, we give the poor more than welfare, we give them an opportunity to earn a wage. Where He is, we give sinners more than a lecture, we give them an opportunity to repent and trust in His mercy. Where He is, others come first in our family and in our community and in our world. Where He is, is heaven.
Now, if this is true, then to join Him in heaven here on earth we must go where He is, we must be when and where love is happening. Heaven is not where the poor are located, but where the poor are served, when the poor are helped, as the act of charity happens. Heaven is utterly dynamic, an event and not a state of being. We are closest to heaven when we act like we are already there and that lays a very large burden on our behavior.
Heaven is not about how we feel, it is about what we do. It is not about us, you or me, but about Him and His acts of love for His people. Think of what things we would do, you and I personally, if this were in fact heaven. Ah. We now have a plan!
How are we doing with this plan? Too often, not very well. This event driven blessed state is focused on others, on their troubles, on their lives. We tend to like it better when attention is focused on us.
We are too often like Eve. We think we are part divine, that heaven is inside us, that we can find truth and reality by subjective meditation and mystic awareness. We look for Him inside ourselves instead of in heaven, the Body of Christ, His Word, or a neighbor. We desperately want something of us to be eternal without relying on our Abba and His mercy. We want to be born good and rest the blame for our sins on factors beyond our control, like genetics, society, parents, or bad luck. Sometimes we want to rest in a state of bliss and reward instead of engaging in work and effort to make the world better.
When we fail there is nothing inside of us that can save us. We are easily fooled by soft music, gentle words, and nice smiles into believing that no real change of heart or behavior, no real repentance and penance is needed. Such an about face, such a refocus of our life, would imply that we are not heavenly beings but sinners and even devils. Many of us believe that our problem is guilt, not sin. If we could only get rid of the guilt we could keep the sin. Politicians, preachers, and talk show hosts all count on this flaw in our character. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we hide from Him, we hide from reality, by going inside ourselves, obsessed with our emotions. We dodge the truth about us by claiming
It's what's in here that matters. It is all about us, our insides and our feelings and our beliefs.
That is why He comes to us only through media and not immediately, without means. His Word, especially Scripture, is an objective reality of ink and paper or pixels that anybody can read, study, and argue about. We cannot write our own Bible. We have freedom, so we can invent our own religion from purely internal feelings and notions. But the Word of our God is not subjective, it has objective reality. This is a great comfort to us because the Word of our God stands firm forever no matter how weak we are, no matter how fickle we are, no matter how mixed up we are…He is in heaven, beyond our human limitations.
Who art in heaven means He is outside the locked rooms of our minds, above the attic in our mental house. He is an objective reality instead of a subjective reality.
Who art in heaven is the opposite of the modern fantasies that all religion and faith is subjective, personal, and equally true or false. For this god, our God, is no vague or pliable plush toy for us to play around with. The Living God, our God, is in heaven, which means He is not dependant on our faith or doctrines. He is who is He is without reference to human thought, ideas, or language. Yet, our independent God is completely engaged with us on this earth as an actual personality, character, and worker for good. This is Good News, this is Gospel. As
I AM WHAT I AM implies,
He is What He Does,the Four Letter Name means
The God Who Acts.In short, He brings heavenly acts with Him wherever He goes.
Is He in the sky? Once He was. Once He hung on a cross half way between the earth and the sky. He defines Himself by what He does and lo and behold, look what He did! His love is no abstraction, no endless pool of nice feelings. His love is dynamic, active, direct, bloody and effective. When we wallow in self pity and guilt, tied into knots of mystic doubt, let us turn our eyes to that cross, to that man, to that …very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man and was crucified also for us…
Heaven on a cross. It is not pretty, it is not lovely, but it is active, it is love, it is engagement with reality, even the final reality of death, it is our God and where He is there is heaven, the dynamic event that ties up all of human misery and selfish existentialism into one final, terrible, objectively true sacrifice.
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