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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

Circles of life

Circles of Life

I hope you will forgive me for some repetition, but I feel that I need to revisit a few things in order to introduce this post.

In my first post on this blog, I said, “I have come to believe that God does not drive, he leads. He does not demand, he invites. He does not scream, he whispers. He does not overwhelm, but comes to us incognito, offering us opaque incarnations which leave room for mystery, discovery, questions, uncertainty, and even doubt.”

Why is God so evasive? Why doesn’t he just prove his existence? Why doesn’t God just reveal himself fully and completely? I think it is because Love requires a choice. If God were to make himself obvious, their would be no room for us to choose love, faith, or trust. We would simply fall down before him. And as C.S. Lewis has said, “What good is it to say you choose to lie down, only after it has become impossible to stand up?”

The prophet Isaiah said, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself.” I don’t believe that God’s primary communication with humanity comes in the form of specific signs, wonders, manifestations, or miracles.

In my own life, it seems that I discover and encounter God, not directly, but through hints, glimpses, echoes, and shadows of his presence. These are often hidden in plain sight in the midst of ordinary life. Maybe that is why Scripture says that we must seek God, if we are to find him.

Scripture is helpful as it traces God in the experiences of real people and the incarnate life of Jesus. But even its truth, I believe is sometimes subtle and opaque.

I don’t think that faith in Jesus is based on theology, doctrine, thoughts, or opinions about the Bible.

As Jesus told the religious leaders, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Faith in Jesus does not come by way of correct belief and accurate doctrine. Faith comes by encounter and awakening.


Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…

Jesus said that the beauty of flowers, the life of birds, the growth of seeds, and other features of Nature, reveal something of the Character and purpose of God.

In this post, I want to explore a pattern (hidden in plain sight), that is woven into creation, which I believe may offer insight into God and life. I make no claim to absolute truth, but only offer possibilities.


The shape of the earth is circular. The orbits of planets and the structure of galaxies, appear in concentric circles.

Circles form the basic structure of a fingerprint and the human eye.


We find circles in the cross sections of many fruits and vegetables, as well as in the growth rings of trees.


Ancient petroglyphs reveal the significance of circles to former societies. These rock engravings, some of which are thought to be 20,000 years old, are believed to have had cultural and religious meaning.

Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England is a circle of huge stones, believed to have been constructed 5000 years ago, and to have been used to mark the times and seasons of the year.

The Irish Celtic Cross, probably originating in the eighth century, is a cross with a circle. The cross obviously expresses the sacrifice of Jesus. The circle is considered by many to represent the continuity of life into eternity.

Circles, with no beginning and no end, have been viewed by many cultures, as symbols of completeness, wholeness, and the eternal.


Is all of this merely coincidence: the outcome of natural evolution, random chance, and the superstitions of primitive cultures? Or is it possibly telling us something more?

We all have assumptions which affect the way we extrapolate meaning from what we observe and experience. Based on my assumptions, I believe that the circle in nature, in physical life, and in human culture, may be a shadow of God’s presence, somewhat of a compass pointing us to the God of eternity and the Creator of all that is.


What follows is an idea that I have had for many years. Some may consider it a stretch, and maybe it is. But for me it has become a model derived from the pervading presence of the circles of life and creation.

As I look at the life of Jesus, it seems to me that he lived his life in concentric circles of relationship.

In the outer circle, he moved among the crowd. As he did, he was stopped by individuals: A woman with chronic bleeding, a centurion with a sick servant, a Canaanite woman who had a suffering daughter. He may have never seen them again, or even known their names, but as he encountered these people, he stopped to bring good to their lives.

I have placed the enemies of Jesus in the next circle. They stepped out of the crowd to become familiar faces. Usually it was the religious leaders. They knew his name, and he probably knew theirs. They were not just passing by, they sought Jesus out in order to confront, oppose, and criticize him. Jesus always left it open for enemies to become friends.

The next circle was a group of people who became friends of Jesus. He knew their names: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, and others. He shared meals with them, they had conversations about important matters, and they felt that they could call on him in time of need.

Next, were twelve close friends. They traveled life together with Jesus. They not only shared meals, they shared joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams. They asked one another hard questions. They were accountable to one another. At times they misunderstood, disagreed, and even got mad. But they remained friends.

Inside this circle of friends emerged three: Peter, James, and John. With these three, Jesus developed a special closeness. They were the only ones to witness the vision of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. On the night Jesus was betrayed, when he went further into Gethsemane to pray, he took Peter, James, and John with him. With these three men, the deep issues of the soul were shared and secrets were kept.

In the innermost relational circle of Jesus’ life, there was only room for one other, his heavenly Father. It was here that he gained strength, wisdom, and purpose.


Jesus moved in and out of these relational circles at appropriate times. The crowd could be exhausting. When he had been there long enough, he would call the twelve to go with him and get some rest.

When Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, and John, he moved back into the crowd to heal a father’s son.

Early in the morning, he often left everyone as he went to be alone with God. Usually this solitude was sought in secluded areas of creation: a mountain, an olive grove, the wilderness.


Life is relational. To be whole and balanced, It is not enough to only stay busy with a crowd of unknown people. And it is not enough to merely have a couple of exclusive friendships. Like the circles of creation, the relational life of Jesus was one of balance, purpose, integrity, and peace.

Could it be that much of today’s oppression, injustice, anxiety, fear, polarization, and prejudice, is because we have forgotten and ignored these relational circles of life? Have we omitted some circles and over-emphasize others? Have we develop our own models for organizing business, family, social life, ministry, and church. Have we maybe traded circles of equality for pyramids of power?

Maybe I’ll explore more about this next time.

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