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Unseen worlds

April 9, 2016

Over the last week I’ve had a little time to myself, a little more than usual that is. I’ve checked on my bees for the first time this year, and they are doing fine. It is always such a privilege to see the queen on the comb, surrounded by her subjects, laying eggs for the work to come.

I’ve also had more time to read. I even managed to finish a book on the human microbiome that has been staring reproachfully at me for some time now. I’m glad I did. I discovered a whole new world. A world that I knew a little about but there is clearly so much more to learn. With recent DNA techniques we have now know of the existence of many, many more species of bacteria, most of which were not even suspected only 30 or even 20 years ago. For instance, one recent study found over 4,500 different kinds of bacteria living on the hands of a sample of students in the USA, and no these were not particularly dirty students! Indeed, there are about 20 million kinds of bacteria living in or on human beings that have been discovered so far. What they are all doing and how they affect us is only now being explored. This is a whole new world. We’re finding that the bacteria and other microbes that live on and in us affect our health in so many ways. The findings about the importance of gut bacteria to our wellbeing are just some of the first fruits of this new research.

A whole new world there on my hands, my hair, my mouth, and well everywhere. A very real world that has always been there but I had no idea about it. Indeed, no one had any real idea of the almost infinitely complex world right there under everyone’s nose. It’s all real but I can’t show it to you. I can’t really show it to you even with a powerful microscope. It can’t be seen but it is there, believe me.

That hidden world makes me think of the world of faith. I know that there is a creator God, I have evidence. I can tell you the stories about why I know this unseen world is real too. I can tell you the Bible stories that describe people’s discoveries about God. I can explain how these developed over time, much like that book took me from the first discoveries about genetics and germ theory. But like the authors of my book I can’t prove it to you here and now. I can tell you about the many testimonies of faith over the centuries. But if you don’t want to believe then I can’t force you.

The science of modern DNA sequencing is complex. Too complex for most of us to really grasp. Ideas about God can seem the same. That could be where we leave it, with you smiling sweetly at my irrelevant interest in the microbiome; with you smiling sweetly at my old fashioned interest in ideas about a god.

I know that God and complex science both seem irrelevant; I know with equal certainty that both underpin so much of my daily life. I’ll leave you to look around at all of the technology that is enhancing (or otherwise) your life. God is complex: He’s the creator, the Father (and Mother) of all things, all wisdom, a human being – Jesus, an ever-present Spirit living in his children, and so much more.

We are learning that fighting against the unseen microbiome is not only futile but probably fatal as well. I hope that we will soon rediscover that fighting against the Creator of all things is equally futile and fatal too. In both cases we need to change the way we live so that we live in harmony with the unseen world.

The knowledge and relationship with the God of all things is for me everything. This way of living enriches everything, my relationships, my observations, my work, my rest, everything. I can’t show this world to you, or anyone, but, unlike the microbiome, I can invite you to see and explore a relationship with God for yourself. For me it all depends upon a personal encounter with God. I can’t give that, only God can. What I can do though is offer an invite to places where such an encounter is likely and pray for eyes to be opened.

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