God Is Spirit

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“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24

Last week we explored the idea of the Second Coming, which is grounded in the ancient Jewish and Christian hope for a messiah to appear and usher in the kingdom of God. This hope depends on the belief that we are separate from God. However, the understanding of God as omnipresent – everywhere present, equally at the same time – makes the condition of separation impossible.

To say that God is Spirit conforms to our understanding of omnipresence. We can at least conceptually grasp how the energy of spirit can be everywhere present, permeating all things, seen and unseen. It is interesting that the default philosophy in 19th century Western thought, before materially based science emerged, was panpsychism, the understanding that mind rather than matter is a fundamental feature of the universe. Even more interesting is that current developments in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and quantum physics have revived interest in panpsychism. The exploration of what modern philosophers are calling the hard problem of consciousness is causing some scientific heads to turn back in this direction.  

Because of the imagery it naturally evokes, naming the spiritual dimension the kingdom of God is, for many of us, problematic. Spirit, as Jesus explained, is like the wind that blows. You cannot see it, but you can feel it on your face and see its effect in the swaying branches of the tree. In our culture, we would better understand this spiritual domain or dimension as the creative life force that is the underlying reality of all things.

Our previous religious indoctrination may make it difficult for us to think of God as omnipresent energy. If we start from the basis of God as Spirit, however, the transition is not so challenging. To worship in spirit is to become intuitively receptive to the ever-present life, love, power, and intelligence that presses in upon us. I believe it was the mission of Jesus to persuade people to understand that they are designed to know God firsthand, and that to love God with all their heart, mind, and soul is the path that leads to the spiritual awakening we all crave.   

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