When I was growing up in Chattanooga, my dad was fond of reminding his teenage sons that he had “eyes all over Chattanooga.” And there were times when he knew things about our lives that we had no idea how he found out. So one might imagine that he was “omnipresent.” But, of course, he was not. It was just his way of trying to help us behave ourselves! Looking back on it, we did do just that, well, most of the time.
Of course my dad was not ubiquitous. Indeed there was no way a flesh and blood human being could be “present everywhere at the same time.” However, that claim is made for God by the Holy Bible and has been given credence by many biblical scholars and theologians, not to mention preachers. The Psalmist says: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I take my bed in sheol (a lifeless place/hell), behold, thou art there.” Psalm 139:7,8. God is present everywhere.
One theologian has said, “If there were such a thing as getting to a place where God could not be found, then it would be as though God did not exist.” In the Christian understanding of God such a thing is impossible. As Christians, we believe that God is, as the Gospels teach, “near” each of us. We believe that “in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28
At the very heart of our religion is the notion that we can seek and find God anywhere and everywhere. And that God can come to us at any time in any place. Or to put it another way, the thought that God can be worshiped anywhere and everywhere allows for experiencing the sacred in all kinds of places. It is the Bible that reminds us that Moses experienced the presence of God in a burning bush, that God was with God’s people in the desert, that God spoke to Elijah in the cleft of a rock by way of a still small voice, that God visited the temple courts and appeared to Isaiah and God in Christ came face to face with Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road.
God is near and because God is near we are able to communicate with God. Perhaps Tennyson’s words speak as clearly to this particular understanding of God’s omnipresence in his “Higher Pantheism”;
“Speak thou to him, for he hears,
And spirit with spirit can meet;
Closer is God than breathing,
And nearer than hands and feet.”
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 @ 9:02 AM EDT