How Shall We Then Live

Augustine, in The Trinity, says, “it is difficult to contemplate and fully know the substance of God.” I would go further and say that it is not just “difficult, it is impossible to “fully know the Substance of God.” However, it is in the journey – the questions, the searching, the quest to know the unknowable – that God makes Godself known to us.

God is beyond all that we as finite humans can possibly imagine, but God is knowable in an intimate way that goes beyond any human relationship we can have. As Christians, we should affirm the fundamental orthodox doctrines of the Christian church, but at the same time, we must recognize that these are limited ways of expressing what we have come to understand as the nature of God. We move between the opposite extremes of mystery and knowability as we seek to live out a faith based upon the affirmation that “God is truth”; all the while knowing that our apprehension of that “Truth” is limited at best.

What can help us as we move toward a meaningful relationship with God and God’s creation? I can find nothing better than the affirmation from First John that says, “God is love.” I understand that the love of God takes many forms and sometimes it may be a form we don’t like – correction for example – but nevertheless, the pursuit of a life consumed by God’s love is, for me, the only answer to the often difficult question of “how should we then live.” In Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes…

For those who abandon themselves to it, God’s love contains every good thing, and if you long for it with all your heart and soul it will be yours. All God asks for is love, and if you search for this kingdom where God alone rules, you can be quite sure you will find it.

Every day, I am reminded that my “understanding” of God is limited at best and my ability to communicate that limited understanding will always be flawed. However, in a miraculous way, when we love people, God speaks. In that moment, God is revealed in a way that we could never hope to explain using words alone. It is the expression of faith through loving others that I have come to see as the truest representation of who I believe God to be.

So for me, as important as it may be to have a proper theological understanding of who God is, it is equally if not more important to love as God has loved me. My experience of God leads me to the conclusion that either through me or in-spite of me, God will be true to all that God has promised.