God In the World

On a hot late spring day, I was sitting with one of my spiritual moms at a UGA baseball game. We were catching up on life, sweating, smiling, drinking what seemed like gallons of water, and stopping mid sentence to watch the shortstop throw out a guy at first base. When we are together it seems like we can never really simply have surface level conversation any where we go; we both are made for the depths, and naturally it comes out in all areas of life. This happens to me quite a bit, and I think it's perfectly okay to be that way. It’s also perfectly okay to enjoy some baseball at the same time.
 
So, we talked about everything. We touched on God's movement in the city, relational and spiritual hurdles in my own life, and deep theological thoughts about the spiritual world. This happened all while yelling at the umpire for quite literally being blind and screaming at mid-inning base hits and scored runs. It was post-season and it was intense. Our conversations were the same. People were probably listening, and I don't think either of us really cared. It was almost like we were emitting light and revelation with every word that was said and every realization that I had while talking with her.

At one point in the game, she told me to look at the net that separates the field from the stands. She exclaimed that the net mirrors the spiritual world, and the field with all of its players mirrors the world and what's taking place in the world. If you look at the net itself so closely, you can still see the field and the players, but they are blurred out and it's hard to pay attention to what is actually talking place in the game.
 
Vise versa, if you look at the field and the players, ignoring the net, then it's hard to remember that the net plays a pivotal part in your protection and actually exists for you to be able to engage in the game as a spectator and fan. She continued to say that too many people either focus on the net and miss what's happening in the game, or focus on the game and ignore the net's influence on the game, or that it even exists.

She then said that as Christians, as people with the Holy Spirit inside of us, we should be able to look at both; to acknowledge that both the net and game exist and seek to see both realms at work for the purposes of God. Also, we should be able to see what is at work that is against the purposes of God.
 
Then I started thinking, yes, that is so true—and we get to engage in the world as if we know that God's influence is inside of it. We get to see His influence in the people He created, the things His people create, what happens to us, what we see, and how we interact in every day life.
 
Woah.

I had to sit there and drink it in after we both looked at each other thinking, what a good stinking metaphor.

Essentially this taps into spiritual discernment, but without heading too too deep in that direction, I want to remind you that it is possible to see the spiritual world and the physical world in front of you at the same time.
 
It's also possible to see God's hand and influence inside of the world and things of the world itself, even if it's original expression or intent isn't necessarily to glorify God.

Let me explain a little.
 
We live in a spiritual world, we are spiritual beings, and we were called to live inside of the world—to get to know it and its people; even the things that are created inside of the world. This is a part of watching and actually playing in the game, metaphorically.

Jesus confirmed this while giving instruction and praying over His disciples, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." - John 17: 15-18 ESV

So, we are called to be set apart, seers of the spiritual net, but also participators in the game. Not one or the other. On the same vine, I think we are also able to see God in both places, moving, active, and encouraging to His people.
 
This is where God can often come out of the box that we put Him in. He did say He was omnipresent didn’t He?

“‘Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD."' - Jeremiah 23:23-24
 
So can you work a "secular" job and still serve God? Yes! Can you love music, make music, and play in bars for the rest of your life and reach people with lyrics that express goodness, love, deep hardship, honest opinions, and internal thoughts? Of course! Can you write for the New York Times and be a source of encouragement and go against the grind of self promotion and competition? With God's favor, please go for it!

Can you get married, have kids, raise them in Truth and Spirit, and create a legacy of generational faithfulness? The more, the merrier.
 
Can you sit at a UGA baseball game, enjoy everything happening around you and still talk about really deep spiritual things? I do all the time ;) Also, you can sit at Wesley or your church or in small group and talk about the UGA game that took place last week, too. That’s totally fine. We have to learn how to live in both places.
 
My point is, you don't have to abandon your desires wether “surface level” or “deep” (I don’t think there really should be a separation, but it helps for context) and forget what God's given us to do exactly what He called us to do; to love Him and to love others.
 
My other point is, you don't have to separate yourself from the world to thrive and see God inside of it.

That's actually the opposite of what Jesus said and did.
 
So, what if God is inside of the things humans create? I think if we look at something, and completely sift it—take the meat and spit out the bones so to speak—we can actually see so much of God that we neglect to adventure. We often don't take the risk, because the organization, the song, the book, the movie, the art, the blog, etc. wasn't created for God. It’s okay if it wasn’t created for God; that doesn’t mean you can’t see Him through it.

God likes to speak through and influence people with things that are kind of upside-down all of the time.

What I am not saying:
I am not saying God is in sin, which is more action oriented and a choice that we make. I am not saying God is in porn or sexually demonizing songs towards women, or even media that objectifies a group of people. The underlying truth in engaging in the world should always be seeking Truth and freedom. Sinful expressions aren’t necessarily freeing or healthy for anyone to dwell on. But I think being in environments of "sin" so to speak, or listening to a podcast or music that is "secular" and experiencing God in those things is so so good for the Christian soul.  Jesus actually broke up all of those boxes we like to put on what is and isn't God, as well.

He stepped into the bars. He talked with drunk people; probably lots of them. He hung around the "millennials" of the time—the ones who were passionate, devoted, who had no idea what they were really doing, and also very stupid at many, many points. He also went away to be with His Father, participated in Passover and Shabbat, honored the jewish culture, worshipped with some of the oldest hymns known to humanity, knew scripture like the back of His hand (He technically was the word, but He still studied it!) He also wasn’t afraid to offend. He broke laws on the sabbath telling people He was the law (culturally against everything that had ever known).  That’s pretty funny if you think about that in the context of today. What if I decided to do something crazy like run naked all around downtown Athens and then say I am the law! I made it and I can do this and I am changing everything! That’s a little extreme and I am NOT condoning that sort of behavior (especially right now) but Jesus went against the grain of the culture, because of the freedom He desired His people to have.
 
No one could figure Him out.
 
Sometimes I imagine Him dancing to music that wasn't even created for Him, but He enjoyed it because His child made it. I imagine Him completely human making a fire, hanging around kids, laughing with His disciples, cracking jokes at them, actually paying attention to them.
 
We can be human, too.

So, it's time to stop living in one camp. We are meant to live in both camps. He lived in both camps allllll the time and He was fully God and fully man.
 
So, we can do it too!

I wish I could tell you of all my encounters seeing God in worldly experiences and creations, but you would be reading a book by the end of it.
 
Let's just say, dare to adventure to places you have never been before and ask God to show Himself to you. Ask God to speak about what is happening with what you are seeing take place before your eyes. Ask God to show you what He is saying through the song you are listening to by Khalid, or the Marvel movie you are watching with friends.

He always has something to say and something to show, even if it takes some time and even if it’s in a different way than you expect.
 
My prayer is that your eyes and ears would be opened to the omnipresent God, as well as the beautiful and adventurous game/the net that gives you just what you need to enjoy and be aware of what's taking place within.
 
Here are some songs, books, movies to enjoy with a spiritual lens (truly some of my favorites and have literally wept or God revealed something to me in all of them at different parts in my life or very recently because of God's presence)

    Books: 


Author | Emily Helton

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