Revealing God to Each Other



At the center of our being is a point of nothingness…. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is… blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would… make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…. (Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 158, 1968)

At the center of our being, the glory of God beckons for acknowledgement, cries to reveal its truth. It wants us to know that even as we are bodies that don’t last, we are precious gems that do. Christ wants us to know that God is in us! And the Holy Spirit wants us to show God to others.

We need to see God in ourselves; we need others to see God in us. That of God in me needs to know that of God in you, and that of God in you needs to know that of God in me. We need to reveal God to others, and they need to reveal God to us. God gets to know God’s self through our reflecting Light and Love.

Why are we so angry? Perhaps because no one has recognized God in us. Why are we so sad? Perhaps because the God in me hasn’t found a way to connect with the God in you.

We’ve heard that earth is our home, but it doesn’t always seem like the right planet. We don’t feel like we truly belong. Right now, we can’t see each other for who we most deeply are: children, siblings that are fountains of everlasting love.

Those of us who know Christ and have felt the movement of the Holy Spirit, let’s work together to build a world that reveals the magnificence of God, a world whose structures embody love, create joy and sustain peace.

But mercy and truth shall clap hands
together; and righteousness shall dwell and [reign] in
the earth; whereby that of God in every one upon the
earth shall be answered, for all Laws and instructions,
and teachings, being according to that of God in all
people, it stirs up that which gives to every one, that
which gives the knowledge of God, and in the knowledge
of God is all people kept…
(George Fox, Law of God, the rule of law-makers, 1658)


A Quaker Lens Aids Biblical Interpretation


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I am currently writing a book on organizational spirituality. The central scripture of my book comes from Colossians. Colossians is a first-century letter to a house church in Colossae.

In an attempt to be somewhat rigorous in my writing, I decided that I should learn about the cultural, historical and literary background of Colossians. So, I got a couple of commentaries from the library and have started working my way through one of them.

So far, I’ve been disappointed. It seems to me that the religious assumptions of the commentator and her colleagues are keeping them from a clearer understanding of the early Christian community.

For example, the author spends a lot of time discussing Timothy. Because Timothy was involved in writing this letter and others and making Paul’s travel arrangements, some scholars argue that he was Paul’s secretary. Others believe that Timothy was much more than a secretary. The main role that scholars seem to agree upon is that he was a colleague.

I was surprised by the lack of agreement and depth of understanding. From my Quaker lens, it seems clear. If Timothy was both Paul’s secretary and much more, Timothy is the equivalent of Paul’s elder. A Quaker elder prepares the way for ministry by making travel arrangements and corresponding with the receiving Friends. In addition, the elder helps ensure the faithfulness and well-being of the minister.

Then, there was a discussion about Epaphras being called a minister. They contend that he founded the community in Colossae because the letter states that the recipients of the letter learned about the gospel from him. Some scholars believe he was like a deacon (a lay minister). While they recognize that he is similar to Paul, who described himself as a minister of Christ and a minister of the gospel, they seem hesitant to ascribe much authority to him.

Again from my Quaker lens, it seems more clear. I believe Epaphras was called a minister because he had been recognized as having something akin to what Quakers call a gift of vocal ministry! I don’t believe he founded the community. I believe he was named in the letter because he was loved. He had played a key role in unveiling the gospel to them.

Even knowing that I’m coloring this interpretation through the use of a Quaker lens, I believe that a Quaker perspective can help the meaning of the Bible become more clear.

Early Friends were so keen to know the root of the gospel, that they rejected any aspect of the institutional church that seemed to be an impediment to truth and the power of God. Even now, I believe that a Quaker lens can help people come to a better understanding of the earliest Christian communities, because we aren’t as embedded in the doctrines and inclinations of an institutional church that is beholden to maintaining its own power structures.

Quakerism: Getting Better vs. Feeling Better


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Quakerism is rooted in the Christian tradition which celebrates the healing power of God.

This power enabled Jesus to be a healer,

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. (Luke 9.11, NRSV)

the disciples to be healers,

They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
(Luke 9.6, NRSV)

Paul to be a healer,

And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. (Acts 14.9-10, NRSV)

and George Fox to be a healer.

(Fox Speaking.) After some time I went to a meeting at Arnside, where Richard Myer was, who had been long lame in one of his arms. I was moved of the Lord to say unto him among all the people, ‘Prophet Myer, stand up upon your legs,’ for he was sitting down; and he stood up, and stretched out his arm that had been lame a long time, and said: ‘Be it known by all you people that this day I am healed.’ But his parents could hardly believe it; and after the meeting was done, took him aside, removed his jacket, and then they saw it was true. He soon came afterwards to the Swarthmore meeting and declared how the Lord had healed him. (Miracles of George Fox)

So, recently, I was dismayed to realize that some Friends don’t take the Light, one form of God’s healing power, seriously!

I had participated in a public worship service offered by Friends. It was a programmed service that was capped at both ends by short periods of silence. Before the initial time of silence, the leader said, “Just think about the happiest day of your life!”

I was concerned about the underlying message being sent. I didn’t want non-Friends to believe that we have a tradition of silent worship because we’ve found that we can use this time to forget our problems and bury our discomfort! Indirectly, it suggested that sitting in silence is just another means for feeling better.

We sit in silence to get better not feel better!

We open ourselves in silence to the Light of Christ. The Light can be comforting, but its primary purpose is to heal and to transform. Sometimes the Light heals us physically but it usually heals us from the inside out.

The Light helps us see what we don’t normally allow ourselves to see: the truth. It points out what we need to know so we can change, so we can be fully human… whole and holy. The Light reminds us of of our divine nature, heals us from soul damage, and guides us to find how we are called to participate in Christ’s ongoing healing of the world.