Doesn’t this question just fill you with dread? It does me. I can feel the weight of the heavens pressing down on my shoulders when I ask it. If you are a religious person, this question is particularly onerous. There’s a reason for that: the churches have spent a lot of time thinking of ways to make you feel obligated to God and then, by extension, to themselves. What you would normally think, without the centuries of conditioning by clerics of all stripes, would be that since God loves you unconditionally, that your “duty” would be to return that love wholeheartedly. It would be strictly a matter of the heart.
We need to strip away the religiosity from this most important question.
If you were an atheist, you might ask, “What should be my response to life?” This question in many ways is far more spiritual than “what is my duty to God?” If we were to spiritualize it by framing the word “life” as the sentient, intelligent, creative power of the universe, then the question starts to get interesting. “What is my response (duty) to the sentient, intelligent, creative power of the universe?” Then “life” is no longer framed as a set of circumstances but as the continuous stream of divine energy expressing Itself as All Being through us, both individually and collectively.
Max Heindel, of Rosicrucian fame, had a very interesting take on God. He elaborately identified God as a system of Beings, beginning with the Unknowable and proceeding downward through layers of consciousness, each attuned to the realms to which They were assigned. The Christ Being, he said, is only capable of reaching down as far as the life body, or the energy matrix that holds flesh and Spirit together. This is an interesting concept – that the Christ can “only” do anything. The Churches would say that Christ, being God, can do anything. But here Heindel is saying that there are realms of being to which the Christ is blind. Hmmm.
And while this notion might be theologically fraught with problems (problems for the churches, not for us) it does help to explain what our duty might be in such a situation. And it also opens up a lot of opportunities for self-expression in ways that are enormously spiritual and, dare we say, gratifying. For doesn’t it stand to reason that, if God is Love, that serving God would be pleasurable?
The churches would have you believe that earth and heaven are separate, that earthly activities are mundane at best and wicked at their worst. They say that the most you can ever hope for is happiness in the hereafter. Not here. In fact, happiness in this life is looked down upon, even shunned, as though any degree of joy in this life diminishes one’s chances for joy in the next. Terrific. Not a church I would want to belong to, that’s for sure.
So, if the Lord of Life (the Christ Being) can only experience this world insofar as the power of life expresses itself in it, then it also stands to reason that God (as Christ) needs us. Which, of course, depends on whether God wants to experience earth life. This we can safely assume is so, since after making it, God said, “Wow, that’s really good!”
Here we are, then – God’s only opportunity to explore the Creation. I say “only” because we are the best equipped to appreciate the place in its fullness. The “only” Son of God, and all that. And by “best equipped,” I mean that we are the only beings that are not entirely tethered to our instincts. We have the capacity, even the propensity, to stretch ourselves beyond our standard operational parameters, do we not? Animals are perfectly happy to be themselves. Dogs just want to be dogs. People, on the other hand, are continually looking for something more.
Whence the craving? Well…I say that it is God’s curiosity that has spoiled our blissful state of benign contentment, forcing us out of the Garden of Eden into the Land of Chaos. Apparently, God saw an opportunity there, an opportunity to synthesize, to integrate, to sanctify, if you will, raw material packed with potential. Consciousness with a capital C infusing Itself into the Void, trying to discover why it exists, what purpose that part of Itself has in the wholeness of Its own Being.
So, God created an agent and told it to go in and sort things out, to name everything and to figure out what everything is for, to plumb the depths of the Divine Potential. And since God is a living God, the only things that were of any interest were the expressions of that Life, and the ways in which the multitudes of those expressions could relate to each other. Life!
Our duty to God, therefore, is to offer ourselves up as vehicles for God’s Self-expression. It is to let the Life of God move through us in Its never-ending desire to discover Itself. And like a baby, nothing is uninteresting. Everything is totally fascinating. The possibilities are endless. Whether an Olympic gymnast, a concert pianist, an artist, a poet, a teacher, a student, a bank president, a 711 clerk, a physicist, a construction worker, a nurse, a beachcomber, a grandmother – all enable God, the Lord of Life, the Christ Being, to BE HERE. How glorious is that? That’s pretty glorious.
It’s also pretty humbling. Rainer Maria Rilke captured the essence of God’s earnestness to know Itself:
The spirit wants only that there be flying. As to who happens to do it, She has only a passing interest.