Participation In God

From “Cities of God”
by Graham Ward, b.1955

Desire in secular culture can never be satisfied that is fundamental. In its very crudest form, desire for sexual gratification, however many orgasms l have, I’ll want more. This has other social analogues. However much I earn I can always spend it and beyond it. Whatever I achieve there is more to achieve. Desire within the postmodern city can never come to an end or the market would cease. Desire here operates because we always sense, or are made to sense privation; and we are always attempting to fill that lack or find compensations for unfulfilment. Now, in the Christian tradition, desire in God and for God does not operate according to a logic of privation. God does not love us because God needs us to complete God‘s own desire. And although Christians love God first out of their recognised need, Christian mysticism has long since come to see that pure love for God is abandonment onto God for who God is in God‘s loving triune self. There is a profound difference between participating in God and a need for God. In the Christian tradition, God is not there to fulfil human demands. For that is to treat God as we might treat any other commodity in the marketplace. Traditional accounts of “imitatio Christi” and doctrines of creation and eschatology, teach that the purpose of human beings is to be sanctified, and the function of the Church as those who are in the process of sanctification, is to draw all creation back into participation in God to co-operate with God in the redemption of the world. Christian desire moves beyond the fulfilment of its own needs; Christian desire is always excessive, generous beyond what is asked. It is a desire not to consume the other, but to let the other be in the perfection they are called to grow into. It is a desire ultimately founded upon God as triune and, as triune, a community of love fore-given and given lavishly.

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