THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD
Christianity in its authentic expression has been an experiential faith from its very conception. In addition to miracles, Christ revealed to His disciple the glory of His divinity in His baptism, in His transfiguration and finally in His resurrection. That experience was passed on from the disciples to subsequent generations. The experience of God required purification. Christ articulated that spiritual rule when he said that the pure in heart will see God. He did not say that the intellectually enlightened, the educated or even the philosophers would have the experience of God, but the pure in heart.
Throughout Christian history, we see that God reveals Himself to humble people. As a rule, these people remained hidden for the most part avoiding recognition, because they realized that the very moment others recognized and honored them, they would lose the experience. Many lived “in mountains and caves”, as they struggled with their own passions on their journey to purification. In the Old Testament, Elijah experienced God's presence as a fine breeze alone in a cave. In the Christian era, we have the phenomenon of monastics and ascetics who left the busy life of the city and went to deserts of various forms. It was in absence of of noise and interaction with others that they were able to descend into their heart, they transformed their passion and found God. When I say found, this was not a static discovery but a continuous dynamic exploration for the divine. A hunter once lost in the forest came across one of these ascetics. The hermit asked him what he was doing. “ I am hunting,” the man said. “And what are you doing,” he asked. “I am doing the same,” the hermit replied. “I am hunting my own God.”
The experience of God is not a phenomenon defined and limited by time. It is a timeless event that starts in the heart of man and extends into the infinite dimension of God's love. It starts on earth and reaches heaven and beyond. It has no rules and is driven by the insatiable desire of man to find meaning. Man is built in the image of God. Knowingly or unknowingly, he seeks to find his archetype. The irony is that the struggle for meaning often becomes more difficult the deeper this image remains hidden within the layers of pretenses and passions. Man's struggle is go through these layers and find the hidden image. This effort reqires stillness. “Be still and know that I am God.” In stillness, man comes face to face with two things: his own self with all the pains and the anxieties he has accumulated over time, and the light of God that comes from within, the hidden image.