One of my favorite television series of all time is The West Wing. And one of the most memorable and impactful scenes of that series is in the episode “Two Cathedrals." The main character in the series, Martin Sheen, plays Jed Bartlet, President of the United States. Sheen's character is beyond distraught and seething with disbelief because his long-time assistant and friend, Mrs. Landingham, was killed. A drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into Landingham's car. It was the first time in her life she splurged and bought a brand-new car.
Mrs. Landingham was well-liked by everyone. Her death was not only unexpected, but to nearly everyone who knew her, it was also cruel and unfair. It was incredibly infuriating to Sheen's character; to him, it was a heartless act by God.
After attending Mrs. Landingham's funeral at the National Cathedral, Sheen's character remains alone in the majestic edifice. Speaking to God, he lets God have it with a memorable soliloquy. He calls God an S.O.B and a feckless thug. Those were his most charitable descriptions. He ends his rant of disdain toward God by lighting a cigarette, dropping it on the cathedral floor, and grinding it under his foot before angrily leaving the building. Bartlet, a devoutly religious man, seemingly renounced his faith in God.
That scene was a dramatic illustration of how human beings sometimes give God human qualities and emotions. They see God as something that is unpredictable and will change on us in a heartbeat. When we describe God in this way, we are making God in the image of humans. But "The Force" is not made after our image; we are made after the likeness of God. Whenever we try to define this Presence, we put a limit on it. However, God is limitless and beyond human definition or description.
If we say God is loving, that's inaccurate. God is love itself. Similarly, God is neither powerful nor intelligent. God is all power and intelligence. It is accurate to say God is not a problem solver, but God's consciousness dissolves all problems. God does not give us what we need; God is what we need. All fruitful spiritual work and transformation start with realizing our oneness with the Presence. Anything less than that realization likely means we seek to define God and put a limit on the Presence.
Similarly, we limit the fullness of God's expression through and as us when we put ceilings on how we see ourselves. Such limits serve as barriers to fulfilling our potential since it is impossible to go beyond our self-concepts. Our life is an essential dimension of the Presence of God. However, we limit God whenever we identify ourselves falsely since this Presence can only do what we allow God to do through us.
Human beings tend to be judgmental and then project that quality on God. So, if we believe in a God that’s judgmental, gets mad at us if we don't act right (whatever right is), or thinks we are born sinners, we have imposed a limit on God and ourselves through such false descriptions. But those descriptions are merely thoughts we have made up, have become beliefs about life, and end up becoming our individual and group experiences. To the degree we think this is who we are, we are limiting the power of God in our life.
Let’s stop limiting God. When we no longer limit God, we ourselves become limitless.
Peace and Blessings,