Faith: Find yours or don’t, but for God’s sake and mine, let others do the same. Part 2 0f 2
In case you haven’t met, let me introduce you to the God I’ve come to know* and love. You might recognize Him/Her or He/She might just resemble your God (presuming you know One, of course). That resemblance would be natural. Your God and mine are probably related.
*Legally, my “knowledge” of God is subject to change at any time, for any reason, and without prior notice. Any resemblance of my God to anyone else’s is unintentional and purely coincidental.
My God is not a jealous God.
My God knows that those who believe in God desperately want to know His/Her plans and His/Her will so we can take a shot at living in the manner He/She wants us to live. But God doesn’t work that way. If there was a book that perfectly defined how God wants us to live, it would be helpful. But to be perfect, such a book would need to be written in God’s hand, not a human hand. The only such writing I can think of (though my theological education is admittedly woefully inadequate) may have been made on the tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain. Those rules, while often broken, have stood the test of time very well. But the writings of people, no matter how inspired by God they may be, have to be flawed, simply because all humans are flawed.
What we inherited from our ancestors are texts written by people, many of whom may have been inspired as holy messengers. Accordingly, each text likely carries a degree of spiritual wisdom, but all are nonetheless imperfect. The contradictions that exist within, for example, the Bible, can only be attributable to the fact that many human authors were contributors, and their memories or interpretations of The Word were more-or-less good, but not perfect. It they were perfect, there would be no contradictions in the Bible. Likewise there would be an easily recognizable correlation among The Koran, the Bible, The Torah, The Kojiki, the Four Texts of Confucius, The Tripitaka and other all sacred texts, except for the fact that they were nearly all written by men (there’s an inherent bias right there) to define a monotheistic or polytheistic God’s Will in the world.
If the inspired men who authored and compiled the Holy Scriptures were not flawed, all religions would share the perfect vision and there could be no such thing as religious disagreement, let alone religious wars.
I seriously doubt that God ever intended women to be denied the opportunity participate fully in the development of our world’s religions. Men certainly don’t have an exclusive proclivity on spirituality, intelligence, perceptivity, reason, or any other key theological components. But God’s rulebooks were overwhelmingly composed by the males of the species, and were terribly flawed by that chauvinism alone. Imagine how much more theologically advanced our species would be today, if the perspectives and wisdom of women, fully half of humankind, had not been excluded from their rightful positions in the mix from the beginning. The religious hurdles we face today might have already been cleared long ago if women had their equal place at the table.
God does not want any of us to feel threatened by anyone else’s interpretation of God. Neither should we be threatening to those whose faith is not aligned with ours. No human can ever fathom and understand all that God is. We are only just now taking our first little forays outside of our solar system, which is in itself a tiny and insignificant portion of God’s universe. We are all blind as we describe the elephant in the room using our imperceptions to prove our imperfections from where we stand in the room. Our descriptions need not be the same to still be correctly attributable to the same God (or pachyderm). God is not apt to require anyone to blindly and fully accept any religion’s narrow definition of God and faith. I lose no favor from my God from my inescapable inability to fully know and define God.
Rather, if anything, I think God wants us to look for elements of the True Way in any venue, idea or religion. Likewise, God gives us license to disregard (not, however, to destroy) any idea or practice that one’s self perceives as contrary to the foundations of love of God. My self perceives that we should welcome (not merely tolerate) one another’s differences.
It is ironic that people are self-compelled by fear of the unknown to feel they are completely and unquestionably right in their faith, while God knows none of us is even remotely able to be so.
It is tragic when people so desperately need to believe that they are completely right in their faith, that it becomes their duty to destroy all believe otherwise. Might is not right.
My God is an inclusive God.
I believe that the self, the soul/spirit that is in every one from birth, is a fully included particulate of God on earth temporarily residing in a biological vessel. Further I believe it’s nearly certain that other particulates of God inhabit other vessels, not only on earth but in other realms in the universe. As we are all particulates of God, no one is worthless, nor is any one inherently more valuable than others. If all are included, there are no “chosen.”
My God is not a vengeful God.
As God is not vengeful, God needs or wants no agents of vengeance. (Vengeance is mine say the Lord.) My God grieves when people are persecuted, are made to suffer, and are wounded (physically, emotionally and soulfully) or die in war. God grieves all the more when wars are perpetrated in God’s name. “Holy War” is the ultimate oxymoron. Those who perpetuate deadly Holy conflicts are proxy-morons. God neither condones nor punishes them, but forgives them.
My God is a generous God.
For a long time I drove around with a bumper sticker on my car that read “Grace Happens.” It was a play-on-words about Grace Church, where I was a member of the most wonderful, spirit-filled congregation I have ever known. Grace Church was happening. But the broader and simpler statement, Grace Happens is also true.
I deepely believe in God’s Grace, the no-strings-attached gifts that God presents to us from time to time regardless of how undeserving we may be. God’s Grace is bewildering because it is completely unrelated to our worthiness. God’s Grace is not a reward reserved only for the righteous; neither is misfortune a punishment just for the sinful. There is no fairness or unfairness involved in God’s Love or God’s Grace. Each is simply and magnificently a gift freely given. The apparent randomness of Grace is mystifying.
My God is a forgiving God.
I believe that God’s generous love freely forgives and informs how we should comport ourselves as well. I need to be forgiven, and need to forgive. The comfort and peace that so unexpectedly comes when one forgives is surprisingly as strong as, or greater than, that felt by the forgiven.
My God is a patient God.
I believe that God waits patiently for me to learn and accept what God wants of me. The surest sign that I am doing as God intended is an enlightenment of my spirit.
My God is a loving God.
God motivates through love, not fear. God does not want us “obliged” but “inspired” to love one another, to worship, and to do no harm. To be obliged is to follow “the rules;” to be inspired is to be infused with “the Spirit”. The fearsome God portrayed in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) and in other religious scripture, appears intent on defining duties as the price of admission into God’s Kingdom. I believe that God’s power lies in love, not in duress.
My God is an eternal God.
Achieving a favorable eternal existence ought to be a crucial concern in the lives of those who believe in an eternal soul. Life presents opportunity and danger to the soul. We, being particulates of God, are eternal. Nourishment of one’s soul in a lifetime is the opportunity. The damage one does to one’s soul is the danger. After a life, a soul (the essential you) will carry the soul-nurtured nourishment and the self-inflicted damage of that lifetime forever. An earthly human lifespan is an infinitesimal moment in eternity. That makes what we take with us infinitely more crucial. That’s why I love watching Ebeneezer Scrooge when he finally figures that out.
My God is a pained God,
especially when we kill one another, and even more so when we kill in God’s name.