Moments from life at IBTS,  Theological musings/personal reflections

Rift as a Space to Meet God

Henrikas, one of our Research students, reflects on the student-led conference we enjoyed in Amsterdam during the research colloquium:

The conference on migration and dislocation invited creative look at the practical implications of my research. I wondered: can the dislocation, rift and rupture become a space to meet God? Besides, can our action (which suggests newness and rift) be a meeting place with God?

God’s presence in Scriptures is strangely hidden in the cloud, near and yet distant. In terms of place or space, there is an image of the temple. According to Yves Congar, the temple is to be viewed in the history of growing interiority and intimacy with God. It is the place of indwelling and manifestation, God’s presence with his people. There is continuity, but there is also a rift. The real sacrifices are those of the broken hearts, not bulls. The presence is not the one people wished to maintain (the temple), but unsurpassable presence of God in true sanctuary, Jesus Christ, and through the Spirit in the faithful and in the church.

But how then is God’s proximity and transcendence to be kept together? Congar learned from Thomas Aquinas that “God is present everywhere and nowhere. He is nowhere because he is spiritual and neither circumscribed by or settled in any place, but he is present where he is active.” God’s presence is bound to action, not space. Besides, this action is to culminate and fulfilled in our action, our knowledge and love towards Him.  Maurice Blondel viewed action as that which binds our thinking, ethics and history. In his work on tradition he insisted on living tradition, relating Jesus of history and Christ of faith, embodying faith without fully knowing its implications. It is being unpacked as we go; it is, essentially, an action. Our action is necessarily a rift and even non-acting, we act.

If action is central, then our action is in fact the space where our action meets God’s action or resists it. It is not necessary that this action would carry the label “Christian,” but it is always in relation to our truthfulness and the ever-acting Spirit of Jesus Christ. If God is present where God is active, our real witness is our genuine action co-extensive with divine action. God acting as Spirit, can bind the human action and divine, lead us to faith and love, indwell us and give spiritual gifts. Action, thus, is a space to meet God and can be a space to be filled with God. Rifts and ruptures are inescapable and valuable.

– Henrikas Žukauskas


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