‘When we see the wonder of God in another human, we may liberate the God that they are.’
In John 10, Jesus justifies his claim that ‘The Father and I are one’ by quoting Psalm 82: ‘I say, “You are Gods’”. We are children of the Most High. In John 17, Jesus says that God will be in his followers, and those who learn from them, in the same way as God is in him.
In his Journal, George Fox wrote of ‘The spirit that is transgressed and in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one’. Fox manifested it, going into steeplehouses and challenging the priests. After we were tolerated in 1689, we became Quietist. Yet Fox called us to liberate that of God in every one, including ourselves.
I am an atheist. I do not believe in God or spirit separate from the matter of the universe, but God remains a useful metaphor, because the wonder of reality and humanity is too great for our small egos to comprehend. I joined Quakers as a refugee from the Anglicans, found God in stillness, and remained when I ceased to believe in the eternal creator because stillness still had value for me. I quote Fox and the Bible because they contain observations about what it means to be human. I don’t accept the explanation that God is literally working in us, but as I mature more and more of the observations chime with my experience.
What would be God in us, and what would imprison it? Quakers make the bold claim that, when we speak in Meeting, God speaks through us. Unprogrammed Friends in the US discourage the phrase ‘Thank you for your ministry’, preferring to say it is God’s ministry, which comes through us. Some Friends fear that someone might speak from mere ego, inflating themselves. As a trans woman I feel marginalised by society, and my internalised transphobia holds me down. So I am also silenced by an inner persecutor, which cannot tolerate me thinking well of myself. This experience is not unique to trans folk.
But people saw God in me – the wonder of my gifts and creative love. In my misery their love empowered me. When we see the wonder of God in another human being, and communicate it to them, we may liberate the God that they are.
I see the wonder of healing: bones knitting, wounds closing, minds moving towards sanity. God will not remain in prison. The bonds break. God is nothing less than the whole human being, in its full glory, speaking its truth.
So we build heaven on earth, which involves creation and resistance – nurturing, speaking up, and liberating God in each one of us. Yes, it records when we are persecuted, but could Meeting for Sufferings be renamed Meeting for Glory? What could Yearly Meeting be, if we saw each other as Gods and cast off our chains together?
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