Question: Is this all there is?
In Against Heresies, Book 4 (20, 7) Irenaeus wrote, “For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.” There are different ways of interpreting this, but one way can be expressed like this: “The glory of God is a human fully alive.” For Irenaeus, this meant participating with God in the drama of life to become what God intended you to become.
For those of us who grew up in the church, there is the sense that to be a good Christian we must attend church faithfully, read our Bibles, pray, witness, tithe, and serve on church committees. Though these are good things, the truth is that life in God is not confined to these things. In fact, these things can potentially get in the way of becoming a “human fully alive” especially if the church one attends is oppressive and manipulative.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free,” Paul writes in Galatians (5:1) in response to the legalism of his day. In fact, in this letter he is angrily confronting those who want to make the gospel merely a Jewish movement. For Paul, the gospel was for the whole world. His God was far, far bigger.
That’s the invitation of the banquet, to see God as far bigger than we ever imagined and to see our life with God as something far bigger as well. Approaching the banquet table is an exercise in freedom. Scientists shouldn’t be afraid of searching for truth. Artists shouldn’t be afraid of exposing the human condition. Musicians shouldn’t be afraid of mining the depths of human emotion. Businessmen shouldn’t be afraid of making money. God created us for such endeavors. And as we pursue them alongside this ever-increasing vision of the glory of God, we become fully alive.
There are great risks. One can make an idol out of truth or humanity or passion or money, but true joy comes as we become fully alive in God. He delights in it. He wants us to experience a kingdom that is not confined to a temple or a church building but only by our ability to dream. And God wants us to dream big.
Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Photo Credit: The Marriage at Cana by Maerten de Vos, c. 1596