If you had to choose between God and doing something to help others what choice would you make?
Funny, the other day I was praying… well it was more like a mixture of prayer, meditation, chanting, and singing mantras…. I switch back and forth between all kinds of things since I study them all. Anyway, it turned into a direct prayer. I was praying to God for the ability and the power to do something to really help people and my environment. I don’t know who God is, but I still pray to it anyway.
During this prayer I felt as though I was asked (or asked myself) the question of if I was praying to God to get to know God or if I was praying to get direction and empowerment to help people. Immediately I thought to myself the “correct” or churchy answer of “this is for God”. Then the question came back in a different form. Would you rather know God and help nobody, or never know God and heal others? I thought about it and decided that wrong or not my motivation is to help others–God or no god.
There was a sense of guilt there, knowing that was not the politically correct church answer, and a feeling of release and joy from stating it.
After a brief moment of not knowing if God was going to strike me with lightning or not, some ideas rushed to my mind that made me feel a ton better. I will go over a few of them quickly with you.
I do not think that it is even possible for me to really know God until I am actively participating in love and in showing compassion to humanity and the environment. I think that when we do these things is when we are truly able to experience God; not the other way around. Furthermore, God does not give us “power” to do things unless we are already in the place where we are doing things that are in need power. He does not simply speak to and engage people who are not engaging others in life.
Plainly speaking, God isn’t going to come and zap me with something while I am here alone in my room sitting on my butt doing nothing. Although even if he never shows, if I have to choose between one and the other–I would rather help some people.
I think God would make the same choice. This scripture then came to my mind (Phil 2:5-8),
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
So Jesus made the same choice. Be with God or help people? Give me the people.
Why isn’t God’s presence and power present any longer in all of our safe, little Christian bubbles? Because God isn’t in the bubble; He is out in the world, and wants us to go out into it as well.
This reminds me of a Buddhist story I heard weeks ago in a Zen class:
There was monk who was very frustrated. He had done everything that he was supposed to do, but had not yet found any enlightenment. He was disciplined, well studied, meditated daily, even gave up all of his worldly possessions and moved into a secluded monastery. One day he heard that a Master was visiting the commoners in a village nearby; so he left to get his advice. He said “Master, I have done all these things. What must I do to reach enlightenment?” The Master replied “Leave the monastery, and go out into the world and feed the hungry.”
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