I was raised in a West Texas city and attended a Lutheran Church with my family. I suppose like most kids, I liked some parts of going to church and others not so much. The sermons weren’t that interesting to me but one thing I really liked was going to Holy Communion. There was something sacred about it to me and sharing it with others seemed special. Being part of a divine communion is something profound.
Eventually, I found that Christian theology as a system wasn’t compelling to me anymore, but I also felt there was a revelatory depth to some things. Still do. To me, the incarnation story has a profound truth but probably not as thought of in Christian theology. I think the incarnation concept in mainstream Christianity is too narrow, referring to an individual life. Instead, I believe everything is an incarnation from quarks to humans. I call all these aspects of God-as-transcendent in living finite lives (God-as-living). So God has a Divine Life and it occurs within a communion of all things. God lives each life within the constraints of each situation. (Here are some metaphors for this: here, here, and here)
It’s tempting in this age of individuality to focus on that individuality and separateness. Now, seeing ourselves as individuals can be important. We have an agency and act as individuals. But we may have a sense that our actions are primarily local — affecting just those around us and not reaching much beyond that. This might be thought of as particularly true for ordinary people who don’t have the spotlight of fame or fortune. Sure, those individuals who are prominent and are influencers can have a broad effect. Often that is just irrelevant like a superficial shifting tide. However, there are also countless thoughts and actions of ordinary people every day that shape how the world evolves and changes. In the grand scheme of things, I think, these are much more important.
In a divine idealism, the idea of an only local effect is ill-conceived. That is because every event no matter how small it might seem “changes the Mind of God”. Here’s are a couple of Venn diagram metaphors that illustrate this:
You’ll notice there are overlaps with the individual parts of the diagram. In a communion, everything participates in and effects everything else.
God has certain purposes in mind for this reality. Every event shapes what can follow and how God reacts to it. When God-as-living (us and everything else) makes a free decision and subsequent action, that changes things. Since life is constrained, the possibilities are also reshaped within those constraints. Since God-as-transcendent has a purpose for this particular divine life, those changes impact how God-as-transcendent acts. I’ve used the metaphor many times of an author in creating a narrative. As the narrative proceeds, often the author may be surprised by the direction it takes (free-will). So, the author makes adjustments such that the narrative proceeds according to the author’s goals.
Every thought and action has an effect. Each act of kindness, goodness, creativity, courage, etc. offers new possibilities within the Mind of God for the future. These individual acts also occur within the communion of all things. What might seem like a small event can spread rapidly. As a metaphor, we can see how this can occur within our own minds. As we struggle with issues in our own life there can be a kairotic moment (a moment of dramatic change) where a small change or event can have far-reaching consequences. In scientific terms, this fits into the phenomena of chaos theory (the butterfly effect) — an amplifying effect where a very small change can create a dramatic result. Another way this has been expressed recently is as “a tipping point”.
What this means personally is that no matter who you are, your actions can make a profound difference. Your actions occur within the Communion of the Divine Life. They affect others around you but also ripple out far beyond that and combine with the thoughts and actions of others in the communion to shape the future. This combination can create profound new possibilities for God to embrace and act upon. Who knows? Your individual, simple act of kindness and love may create a kairotic moment, a tipping point where love and kindness spread more broadly.