Divorcing God

“In the spiritual life, I can promise myself nothing without the special help of God . . . From one moment to another, I may fall into mortal sin: consequently, even though I may have labored many years in acquiring virtues, I may in one instant lose all the good I have done, lose all my merit for eternity, and lose even that blessed eternity itself. How can a king rule with arrogance when he is besieged by his enemies and from day to day runs the risk of losing his kingdom and ceasing to be a king? And has not a saint abundant reasons, from the thought of his own weakness, to live always in a state of great humility, when he knows that from one hour to another he may lose the grace of God and the kingdom of Heaven, which he has merited by years of laboriously acquired virtues? ‘Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 126:1). However spiritual and holy a man may be, he cannot regard himself as absolutely secure. The Angels themselves, enriched with sanctity, were not safe in Paradise. Man, endowed with innocence, was not safe in his earthy paradise. What safety, therefore, can there be for us with our corrupt nature, amid so many perils and so many enemies who within and without are ever seeking insidiously to undermine our own eternal salvation? In order to be eternally damned, it is enough that I should follow the dictates of nature; but to be saved, it is necessary that divine grace should prevent (go before) and accompany me, should follow and help me, watch over me and never abandon me. Oh, how right therefore was St. Paul in exhorting us to ‘work out our salvation’—which is for all eternity—’with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12).”
— Fr. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 21-22

The salesman mindset of saving souls through cheap grace has permeated the body of Christ in America. Many, many people have been sold the lie that their salvation is like a legal contract defined by lawyers who say God must save you if you do this or that. Whether one realizes this or not this is an aspect of magic in its worst form.

God’s love is unconditional, but unconditional love can never force a person to love them back. If our love is a love we set conditions on, such as,  “You can be my God Lord but I will live my life as I want sins in all” then we, not God, had changed the nature of love.

The love of God in the Bible is a relational love, a love of intimacy and covenant. It is a love that is a marriage. We are not “saved” into our individuality, but are saved into the Church. Jesus’ own words to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18 NRS)

Marriages fail. Divorce is painful. Divorce usually occurs when the couple who made vows to God did not as individuals live up to those vows. I have yet to find a couple who came to the altar to say to one another, “Till death do us part” come with the idea, “Or until we divorce.” If you ask them on the day of their wedding, “Do you think this marriage will last?” they would answer, “Yes.”

But then things happen. Attention and love is focused else where. Issues are allowed to have more importance than the vows made. One or both of the partners quit working to make their love last. The spiritual dimension of their relationship diminishes and the certainty of separation grows. God watches in pain.

So it is with our relationship with our Lord. We put more trust in theological pronouncements devised by mortals than in actions of love and trust called for in a relationship of love. We quit spending time with God. We quit being transparent with God and we quit seeking to do all that we can for the one we said we love and who forgave us. We become open to seduction by thee enemy both within and without and commit adultery with the world. We leave God. We divorce God. And in spite of all that God does to try to maintain the relationship, we abandon it. God watches in pain.

There is a reason for these words, “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   (Phil. 2:12-13 NRS)

These are words to take to heart with all seriousness.

“In this life no one can fulfill his longing, nor can any creature satisfy man’s desire. Only God satisfies, he infinitely exceeds all other pleasures. That is why man can rest in nothing but God.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas