Pain...in three parts: part 2

This is the second of a three-part series in which we've been laying out a framework for understanding life's difficulties both in terms God’s will and the choices we make. This understanding is based upon three premises:

  1. There must be a God who is perfect.

  2. Because God is perfect, he didn't/doesn't need us, and His act of creation, including creating us, demonstrates His love for us.

  3. Pain and difficulty are both God's gift, and the result of man's choice. They are a reminder that although we live in a broken world that can trace it's brokenness to our rejection of God’s plan for us, His love is revealed to us through an existence where our decisions and actions proceed from free will, the consequences of which allow us to experience the opportunity for His reconciliation and grace.

Part 2: CREATION DEMONSTRATES A PERFECT GOD'S LOVE

IF GOD IS PERFECT, WE ARE NOT NECESSARY

At the conclusion of Part 1, I posited that logic and experience dictates there must be a thing or person at the top of the hierarchy of beautiful and desirable things which our human nature compels us to seek; a most beautiful and most desirable form of beauty that exists for its own sake. I call that perfect form God.


Perfect means 'flawless or faultless, without practical or theoretical improvement.' Being flawless means having no shortfalls. Faultless means having no mistakes. Without improvement means being in need of, or want of, nothing; being fully complete; finished. Fully complete means God is lacking nothing. It also means He doesn't change. He doesn't need to become anything, so growing and decaying, progress and decline, simply don't apply to him.


Growing is a process of becoming more fully complete, which is unnecessary for God. Already being "fully complete" means there's no more that God needs. Some things, in the process of growing become more fully the thing they began as; for example, an apple that grew from a tree and eventually becomes one. For other things, growth means becoming an entirely different thing; for example an immobile egg that changes to a crawling larva (caterpillar) that becomes flying adult butterfly. These types of change also don't apply to God, who, already being perfect, has no need to become something other than what, or who, He is.


Perfect things don't decay. Decay is the process of changing from a superior to an inferior condition; declining in excellence. Logic and the laws of science preclude a thing from being perfect and simultaneously less than perfect. Things cannot be both superior and at the same time moving toward inferiority, or fully complete while it's becoming less than fully complete. Being perfect, God isn't coming or going, increasing or decreasing; he just is.


Lacking nothing means not only the absence of need, it also means everything else that exists provides no supplementary value to God. Things other than God do not make Him better, bigger, or happier; none of that is even possible for a being "without practical or theoretical improvement." Of course, that pile of "everything else" which brings God no additional value includes us humans and our world.


THEN WHY CREATE US?

So, if God didn't/doesn't need us and creating us brings God no additional value, then why would God put forth the effort to create us and our world? Two reasons: love and perfection.


A perfect God is the only one that can manifest the perfect embodiment of love, which came to us in the form of creation for our sake rather than for God's. God created us, as he did all things: to pursue perfection in our being; to become the best us we can possibly be. In doing that, God both demonstrated what perfect love is and invited us to learn what love means by imitating His example. He did so knowing that should we develop the capacity to demonstrate such love, we would be exemplifying the superlative of what a human can be. Think of it as "humanity school." Learning to become the best human means demonstrating the type of perfect love that God showed us, albeit limited in capacity because of our sinful nature.


The highest forms of love are practiced when it is showered upon the object of that love. When God chose to create us, despite knowing our humanity will keep us from achieving perfection, despite knowing that we will be forever prioritizing things higher than Him, He demonstrated what love truly is. In other words, God chose to shower His grace on those who don't deserve it, even though it will deliver Him no value. God's demonstration of love, grace and mercy stands without parallel as both a blessing and an example to us, his beloved.


But in His love He desired reciprocal love, not for his sake, but for ours. Even though God does not need us, He is still intensely interested in our wellbeing. He deeply and tenderly loves us—not because He has to (out of need), but because He chooses to (out of love). There is no question that our seeking and discovering God and his His love makes us better people.


a God who so loves mankind whom He created that He gives them a beautiful paradise to live in, gives them authority over creation, grants them freedom (setting them only one restriction) and most importantly of all spends time with them, communing regularly with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. God created us in His likeness because God wanted communion with man, fellowship with man. In other words God created man first and foremost to have a relationship with Him.



ABSOLUTE GOODNESS

We return to our discussion about goodness from Part 1.

that must include beauty, which is goodness for its own sake. In a sense,

BEAUTY IS A GIFT

Impractical yet fulfilling

The “impractical” aspect of beauty reveals that God is not interested in humanity simply surviving. We are not given the bare essentials and told to make do with what we have. Our hearts mirror His own heart and the same is true of our desires. We long for beauty and we seek it out, whether in truly fulfilling or devastating avenues. This attraction to the beautiful is planted in our souls by the One who is Beauty. He is not a God of “just enough” but One who generously pours out an abundance. The God who multiplied the fish and the loaves to an unnecessarily large degree fashioned the glories of our created world in unnecessarily breathtaking complexity.


While unnecessary for physical survival, I would propose that beauty is crucial in the formation of the soul.  Something new in me is born when I enter a truly beautiful church. Every Catholic church is a home to Jesus. Some, however, are much more like the home the King deserves. Works of literature can be profoundly moving as their beauty reveals the truth. Art, good art, can lead me into prayer as I gaze upon it. In terms of the health of the soul, beauty is essential. Naturally, I think Dubay would agree with me. “To be listless, bored, and lifeless is not only a miserable condition, it is an illness, a fact obvious to anyone who is intellectually alive. To respond to reality and to appreciate it are normal; not to respond is abnormal.”


Living Beauty

I will not say that I have mastered the art of living a beautiful life. However, as time passes I become more aware that pursuing beauty is not a luxury but rather a necessity for my well-being. In a busy life, it is easy to question why I should take the time to soak up poetry, delve into literature, gaze at artwork, or appreciate the fall leaves. What is the point? Shouldn’t I be doing something more productive? The point is that doing so makes me more aware of the exquisite world that surrounds me and thus causes me to be more grateful. A spirit of gratitude causes me to be more ready to acknowledge the many gifts I’ve been given. In the sometimes frantic pace of ‘living life’, beauty forces me to slow down and be in this particular moment in time, the only place I can truly meet God.


THIS WORLD IS NOT AN ACCIDENT OF CHANCE

ONTOLOGICAL TRANSCENDENCE

Another trait we share as humans is the capacity to escape the limitations of our physical world using our minds.


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