Man’s hunger for God, God’s hunger for man

In spiritual experience we see man’s hunger for God. The human soul searches for a higher being, a return to the source of life and to he native land of the spirit. Human life becomes truly terrible when there ceases to be anything above man and when there is no place for the mystery of the divine and infinite. It is then that the medium of non-being becomes apparent. The image of man is defaced when the image of God is obliterated from the human soul. Man in seeking for God seeks for himself and for his own humanity. The human soul suffers the pangs of God’s birth within it. This birth of God in the human soul is the true birth of man. It is nothing else than the movement of God towards him and an answer to his own hunger for God. But it is only one of the aspects of this original religious phenomenon, to which there is another side and in which another movement is involved.

Spiritual experience also shows us that God longs for man and that He yearns for the birth of man who shall reflect His image. The great mystics in describing the spiritual life have spoken of this longing of the Divine for the human, for it is in mysticism rather than theology that this mystery is expressed. The primordial idea in man is the idea of God which is the theme of humanity, just as man is the theme of God. Infinite love cannot exist without a loving subject and a loved object. The birth of man in God is the answer to divine aspiration, the movement from man towards God.

Nikolai Berdyaev, Freedom and the Spirit, pp. 196-7

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