I’ve been rereading parts of Bishop Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Way, specifically the chapter entitled “God as Creator.”
There are some ideas and quotes in this chapter that keep pinging around in my head. Ware states that God has formed two levels of created things: the “noetic” or “spiritual” level and the “material” or “bodily” level. He then states, “Man, and man alone, exists on both levels at once.” This is fascinating to me. In all of God’s vast creation, humanity alone is created to exist and interact on both levels of creation.
Ware then states that by being designed to participate on both levels of creation, humanity is a microcosm of the entirety of creation. And as such, humanity is also the mediator of creation:
“It is his [humanity’s] God-given task to reconcile and harmonize the noetic and the material realms, to bring them to unity, to spiritualize the material, and to render manifest all the latent capacities of the created order… As microcosm, then, man is the one in whom the world is summed up; as mediator, he is the one through whom the world is offered back to God.”
I love what this implies. At the ontological level, humanity is created uniquely to live and play simultaneously on both dimensions of creation. At the operational level, humanity’s vocation is, in Ware’s words, “to manifest the spiritual in and through the material.”
I am designed to manifest the spiritual in and through all of the details and activities of my material life. Talk about “fear and trembling!” How I talk, relate, work, think, eat, drive, pray, write, listen, play, rest, and much more are to be ways in which I manifest the spiritual in and through the material. That means I must learn to live every part of my life beyond the material or bodily level of my existence — beyond passions, reason, and even will.
But wait there’s more! Not only are humans designed to be miniature creations, the places where the two dimensions of creation — heaven and earth — come together and are offered back to God, but we are also made in God’s image. Ware states, “Man is the finite expression of God’s infinite self-expression.” My life is to reflect the life and character of God.
In other words, we are not only the image and expression of creation to God, we are also the image and expression of God to creation.
There is so much that can and should be said beyond the scope of this simple post. However, my intention was to refocus my own vision back onto what human life and vocation are all about.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’m easily distracted. I too easily let busyness, worries, fears, desires and other “bright and shiny things” distract me. So I’m hoping that during this Great Lent, my Lord takes me a couple of small steps closer to realizing my vocation in his kingdom. My life is to be both the image of creation and the the image of God. My life is to be the place where heaven and earth are stitched back together. My vocation is to participate in Christ’s ultimate vocation of bringing together and reconciling all things in heaven and earth (Eph 1:10 & Col 1:19-20). And my life is to be his life, the very life of Christ surging and spilling out of me like rivers of living water (Gal 2:20 & John 7:38).