When I was young, I wasted a lot of time looking for God. It was almost like I had lost a shoe. I thought I would find my missing God in the next book or the next experience. Eventually, I understood what Jesus meant by saying that God is within us.
Many scholars contend that the phrase is better translated “God is among you” which is also nice. Still, there is something deeply non-violent in realizing what we most need in life is within us and all around us. We do not need to buy it, achieve it or steal it from others. We do not need the approval of others to possess the most precious jewel in the universe.
For some, “God” is the ultimate carrot on a stick. Some spend their lives in a painful lonely search for a missing lover, and talk to God as to an uncommunicative partner. But “God” need not be pictured as an invisible person. The symbol can also stand for the ultimate ground of our own being. Seen that way, we would not need to feel that “God” is always somewhere else. “God” is not a missing object we must find, but a sacred mystery out of which we live.
Whatever is universal must pervade everything. It must be so pervasive that we can’t even notice it. Our task then, is not to grasp some idea of God, but to be grasped by the universal. Our task is not to get God to come into our context, but to place our problem in the context of the whole. Our task is not to find someone who is hiding, but to awaken to that which must be everywhere at once.
There have been mystics who viewed Christmas as a sacred poem illuminating how God enters our lives. They contend that every human being is a “mother” of God when we give birth to love. At Christmas, they claim, we are all Mary and the Christ Child represents our own soul being born anew every instant. They assert that the soul is always the newest thing in the universe, and the one who gives birth to it is always a virgin.
There are many ways to think of such things, but consider this; if the Christmas star is a symbol of that call leading to the depths of our own being, and if “God” is a symbol of that mysterious womb out of which we are eternally being born, there is nothing to “find.” And if God is not missing, our weary search is over.