There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. -Exodus 3:2
Dear members and friends,
In a way, having faith in God means willingly entering into a faith of never-ceasing struggle due to the fact that God is experientially and existentially beyond our reality; God is God because of the divine transcendence. At the same time, we never stop desiring to experience God in our own reality. However, if God were to become truly experiential to humans, we would then ask, “is this God whom I am experiencing truly divine?” Yet, in the Bible God assures us of divine immanence, which means that God is permanently present within all creation including humans. Thus, God is essentially both transcendent and immanent.
It is commonly accepted that humans are born and live in a reality that is a creation of their own mind. This self-created reality is often influenced by others and fueled by one’s own desires. However, the self-created reality of any human is based on their interaction and perception of the materialistic world, and thus its nature is materialistic. Most major religions in the world focus on teachings that insist on breaking out of this self-created reality and becoming free from the mandates of materialistic desires. This is an extremely challenging task! According to Swedenborg, it is an impossible task for humans if they were to work at it all by themselves. Fortunately, our loving and wise God is present within and all around us, illuminating our minds with truth from on high. Acknowledging and accepting this truth is the initiation into a long process of spiritual cultivation. This spiritual initiation is symbolically illustrated by the story of Moses and the burning bush.
In my experience, people tend to seek and experience God in ways that other people claim to have experienced God. However, according to Swedenborg, the experience of God’s reality happens within our mind in accordance with the quality of our love and to a degree, how our love has been actualized in life. The core of our problem is never the lack of God’s reality and presence, but the lack of our inner certainty and love. This is why Jesus insists in Matthew, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (17:20) Consequently, faith is not something that can be given to us by God or from the teachings of another person, but is the collective result of our inner cultivation and our efforts to live in accordance with our inner truth.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee