a few days ago, someone who was not a christian asked me what it meant to me to be a christian. at first i replied that it meant to treat others with kindness and respect, and my questioner said that any decent person, christian or not, would act in such a way, pushing me to differentiate my christian practice from that of non-christians. as i thought about his challenge to me, i told him that first i am a theist and second i try to live my life in accord with the teachings of jesus. i went on to say that many christians would not consider me a christian because i don't share many of their orthodox beliefs, but it's not my place to determine if someone else is a christian; i can only address my own identity as a christian. that seemed to satisfy him, and the discussion ended.
as i've thought about that conversation, i have tried to define what being a theist means for me. i find myself thinking of God as the First Spark that set everything in motion, of God as Beginning. i think, too, of God as being That which is greater than the sum of the parts, the parts being all that is, each part vibrating with the energy of creation. i think of the collective energy of every molecule, every being, every bit of matter as containing the essence of the Primal Cause, so that God is at once within and without, and everything-that-is is a part of God but no thing alone is God. God is the Ground of Being, so that nothing exists without God, and God exists because creation evolved from that initial elemental explosion.
so we are all filled with bits of the universe that resulted when nothing became something. we are tied together by the impulse of creation. every object, animate or inanimate, is bound to every other object, and God is present in all. some would say that makes me a pantheist, and maybe they are right. but i see God as more that the life force which exists in each part of creation. God is the Cause, the Great Mystery that breathes life into the void, the Beginning and the End. Perhaps next week, i'll write about what i think God is not!
may we all seek to understand the reason for our being. may we embrace all of creation and sense our connection to every part of the universe. shalom.