BELIEF: God Dormant by Christian Wiman

Meditation of a Modern Believer

God Dormant by Christian Wiman

From My Bright Abyss

The gospels vary quite a bit in their accounts of Jesus’s resurrection and the ensuing encounters he had with people, but they are quite consistent about one thing: many of his followers doubted him, sometimes even when he was staring them in the face.  This ought to be heartening for those of us who seek belief.  If the disciples of Christ could doubt not only firsthand accounts of his resurrection but the very fact of his face in front of them, then clearly, doubt has little to do with distance from events.  It is in some way the seed of Christianity itself, planted in the very heart of him, (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?), who is at once our God and our best selves, and it must be torn terribly, wondrously open in order to flower into living faith.

But how does that happen?  Here, too, the gospel stories are helpful.  Just as some of Jesus’s first-century followers could not credit the presence of the risen Christ, so our own blindness, habit, and fear form a kind of constant fog that keeps us from seeing, and thereby believing in, the forms that grace takes in our everyday lives.  We may think that it would be a great deal easier to believe if the world erupted around us, if some savior came down and offered as evidence the bloody scars in his side, but what the gospels suggest is that this is not only wishful thinking but willful blindness, for in fact the world is erupting around us, Christ is very often offering us the scars in his side.  What we call doubt is often simply dullness of mind and spirit, not the absence of faith at all, but faith latent in the lives we are not quite living, God dormant in the world to which we are not quite giving our best selves.

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