The Two Mountains
This morning our church was privileged to have a guest speaker to deliver the sermon—my twin brother Gil. Unsurprisingly (and completely unbiasedly), I thought it was a great sermon. Gil was preaching on John 4 and the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. There’s a lot going on in this passage, but Gil zeroed in on the two mountains that the woman queried Jesus about:
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Bound up in her statement are all kinds of important questions: Where is God to be properly worshiped? What kinds of people does God blesses? Who understands God and his purposes right? Where is God available?
Gil compared the “two mountains” in the story to two conceptions of God that we find in modern culture—God as either 1) an absentee landlord who just kind of sets things in motion and is not really heard from again; or 2) a genie-in a bottle whom we call upon to meet our inner needs and has little to do with ordinary life. Against these popular misconceptions of God, Gil argued that we need to learn how to see a God who transcends these two options—a God in whom we truly live, move, and have our being. Here’s a few quotes:
In the same way, God inhabits our world. We don’t find God by taking our world apart, analyzing every rock and twig, looking under every bush hoping at last to maybe find some evidence of God. God doesn’t occupy the world, he fills it, he overflows it. God is as present with us as the breath in our lungs. To worship God in Spirit is to recognize this and thank him for it. It means becoming attentive to the many ways in which God’s Spirit gives life, breathes life into our lives.
The fact that we sometimes find it difficult to ‘see’ God might mean that we’re looking in the wrong places or in the wrong ways. We have to be looking in a certain way. We have to be attentive to life in a different way. And when we are, we will find that the life of God and the love of God are all around us. When we do this we will find that God is not someone who periodically invades our lives from another place. No, God is truly the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one in whom we live and move and have our being.
Gil left us with a few questions:
So do we believe what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman? Do we believe that God is available beyond the two mountains? Do we believe that, in Jesus, God has literally invaded every corner of our world, of our experience, of our excitement and our mundane daily tasks and offered us the opportunity to recognize him in it and to praise him for how he is making all things new?
You can read the rest of the sermon here.