Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Early Friends rightly put a heavy emphasis on the presence of God [aka 'Christ'] "within" each human being, suffered [and put out] a great deal of abuse in disputes with people who'd put too much faith in outward signs and practices. They were also aware of God's power in the external world; if they didn't make up the word "synchronicity" it was because they lived embedded in it and already had our convenient three-letter word for the One at work in the patterning of events.
Arguments about whether it's "Christ within" we need or "the external person Jesus" are pointless because we have both.
That is, God is entirely present within each human ["Atman is Brahman"] but the very God we have inside also provides external parents, friends, books, and the occasional odd stranger delivering the very word of God to us [whether he's aware of this or not!]
At some point we stop needing our external parents to be "Parents". If they (and we) are fortunate, we'll still need them as friends and as occasional sources of wisdom; they may even find value in something we discover.
And God? How far does the metaphor of God as Parent extend? Do we ever manage to surprise God? Metaphorically, perhaps, as some Jewish stories suggest.
When we talk about a world 'separate from' God, there's no such world. When we talk about ourselves 'separate from' God, there's no such person. We pray for God's will to be done "on Earth as it is in Heaven," because too much of what we see looks far from loving; we pray for God to 'take away our sins' because some of what we see working in us looks ugly. Neither prayer is wrong or mistaken; but we are mistaken if we don't see God making use of external evils and our own painful lapses.
One of many gifts available from Christianity is the Jewish realization that the Creation is good, that we aren't put here merely to escape it, that even in its broken form it embodies God's intention [much as we do.] And the Kingdom of God keeps breaking through the cracks in our sidewalks...
I like the juxtaposition in this same post of yours between "God Inside is God Outside" and "The Kingdom of God keeps breaking through the cracks in our sidewalks...."
Haven't figured out what to do with that juxtaposition yet but it feels meaningful.
I'm not sure exactly why but your comments stand as some of the most cogent I've seen in some time. Maybe because they imply the supreme 'unknowability' of God right along with the Atman/Brahman nature of God. God indeed works in mysterious ways. Perhaps by definition?
Thanks for the idea about a possible connection between 'Kingdom breaking through' and 'what's inside is also outside'; that last line just 'wanted to be there so I let it.' Worth some thinking...
I wouldn't say 'unknowability of God' because, in our experience, God is sometimes 'palpably' here. But certainly too big a mindful for one bite! We can 'know' things about God but they utterly blow my mind!
Ah! "And the Kingdom of God keeps breaking through the cracks in our sidewalks..."
"God Inside is God Outside"
Re-reading your post and these comments, Forrest and Ken, I think I'm getting warmer. Maybe?
Our lives we know and experience them, lives which confound and strengthen and weaken us, uplift us and beat us down,...as we in these lives read these words of yours we are left simply looking at the Unfathomability / Mystery....because we know that if God is in All That then the Way can be nothing but mystery to us. Maybe it's even a necessity that we never "get it." I think I start to feel that as I read your post and the sidewalk/weeds just really left it hanging there. The futility perhaps of our own systems and hopes (the sidewalk / a tame path through the wilderness)....
hmm. (and thanks!)
The cracks came partly from a poem by a friend (Loverne Brown) and maybe a little from kabbala via Leonard Cohen ("There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's where the Light gets in.") and seem to fit with something Jesus was getting at with parables about the Kingdom being like yeast, or like a mustard seed, said to be a weed capable of overwhelming a Middle Eastern garden once it gets in. Alluding to an observation awhile ago, that even while another ugly war was starting up in ___, I could still find God's mercy actively at work in the lives of myself and people I knew.
I hear the link in my last comment didn't show up well here, it's :