Blinded by Proximity


One of the most difficult things for me to come to realize in my walk with God is how blinded I am by those things closest to me. St. John hints at this in his first letter when he says:

1 John 4: 20-21

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

If we cannot love what we do see, how can we begin to love that which we cannot see. But the trap is that if we "fall in love" with what we do see, it tends to blind us to the cause of what we love, which we cannot see. Say we love sunsets, or roses, or the ocean--we might be tempted to spend time enjoying these things, so much time that the pleasure the things themselves produce becomes an end rather than a means to an end. We start by admiring the handiwork of God and end by admiring a sunset. Surely a good thing to admire, but only in its right order within the sphere of allowable things. When we admire the sunset more than the maker of the sunset we have misplaced our priorities.

I know that this is very, very easy for me to do. It is entirely too easy to admire the creation and forget the creation. The senses can be overwhelming and the pleasures that come from the senses can distract us from the real End and true Purpose of all that we see.

In a sense, the ability to see God in creation is what detachment is about. That is, you do not cling to the sensual pleasure that comes from the object, although you do not reject it either, but you see beyond it to the Cause of all pleasures and the End of all Being. You look beyond the surface and embrace the God who has made all of this possible.

Detachment then is not outright rejection of any of God's licit goods, but rather the proper orientation of them so that God is always in the foreground--He never recedes, but our great pleasure in the event is pleasure in the presence of God in that created thing.

It is easy to be blinded by proximity, however, if the Light is always between us and what is being illuminated, it can never fall into another background element. If we allow God to illuminate our pleasures, with will be God who is the focus and not our pleasures.

Or so it would seem.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 14, 2006 4:26 PM.

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