So as my friend asked, does God practice holy detachment? I have had to think about this for a while. My first reaction was to say no, because that seemed like abandonment to me. ( see my discussion of detachment, here) I don’t believe God walks away from us. Ever. On the other hand, God doesn’t micromanage us either. As I spent time thinking about holy detachment, it seemed a helpful way for me to think about how God may be at work in the world.
Many Christians – myself included- believe that God does not coerce us. God doesn’t force God’s will upon us. God does not manipulate us. God gives us the ability to make choices. We have real decisions to make and we have real choices. We, and others, are affected the the consequences of the choices we make.
The doesn’t mean that God doesn’t prefer us to make some decisions rather than others. And certainly, God offers suggestions – through prayer, through the Bible, through the actions and ideas of other people.
But God does give us space. Space to encounter God. Space to wrestle with God (and ourselves). And space to ignore God. That’s the detachment piece. God cares deeply about the outcome and about us, but gives us the space, the room to make our own decisions. With God the “space” isn’t empty. In that space between God’s desires for us and what we might do, in that space, is where the Spirit resides. I think, if we are willing, we can act more and more in conjunction with God’s will. We can live increasingly open and attuned to God’s presence.
On the other hand, God is not manipulative or unhealthily enabling. We are given the space to fail. We can fail, but we are never abandoned.
To quote Irenaeus, “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God” (Against Heresies, Book 4, 20:7) Holy detachment creates a relationship that is a loving beholding, between the fully alive human and fully present God.