Monday, May 11, 2009

Reflecting God

In this morning's shabad, Guru Arjan Dev Ji notes:

ਤੁਮਰੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੁਮਹਿ ਜਨਾਈ ॥
You are known, O God, by Your devotees.

[Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Raag Prabhaatee on Pannaa 1338]

This statement carries significant weight. A superficial reading would satisfy itself with the missionary zeal of Matthew's injunction: "Go and make disciples of all" (Matthew 28:19). Yet, I believe that this evangelistic reading prematurely absolves us of significant responsibility - it affords us an escape in pointing to those not yet 'converted.' On my view, Guru Arjan Dev Ji suggests that the very decisions and expressions of our lives reflect back on the God that we exalt. The Pannaa implies that our interactions with others speak publicly to our individual relationship with God. We serve as ambassadors of God in a very real sense - our ways (or lack thereof) of being, loving and sharing in the world mirror those of the God we hold up as our guiding light.

Much theological debate in early Unitarian circles centered on questions of atonement. In contrast to the Trinitarian atonement theories of the day, faithful Unitarians insisted that the wrath of God was not appeased by the death of Christ (thus reconciling God to humanity), but that the reconciliation effected should be understood in terms of humanity reconciling itself to God (Romans 5:10). In a sermon titled How God Becomes the Father, Rev. T. Thompson writes: "imperfect, sinful as we are, we must embody the spirit of God, that the Father may be visibly present to the senses and understanding of men [sic]; that love, mercy, justice, truth shall have personality" (51). Symbolically, then, the promise of incarnation need not be eclipsed! In the publication Unity, Levi Eliel counsels: "We should make the word of God flesh, have truth, love, purity, righteousness born into us, embody them in our lives, and...we become at one with God. This is the true atonement, i.e. at-one-ment" (345).

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