I heard a chaplain say the other day, "there is only one path to God...the one you are on." This wisdom is important for all to hear. We try so often to box God in - defining who or what the divine is, and how we are to hear and experience God. When we do this, we are also drawing circles around our understanding - and those on the outside of the circle, we mark as outside of God's embrace.
I know that there are many Christians who believe that the only path to God is through Jesus. On the other hand, there are many, myself included, who believe that there are as many paths to God, as there are grains of sand. Jesus for me is the window that I look through to"see" God. It is the teaching of Jesus that I follow, and that has helped bring me closer to God. But to say that Jesus is the only way is to say that God could not have created other windows through which to look, other paths to walk. It is to imply that God could not have sent others, or communicated directly to others. Who am I to say what God can and cannot do? In the "house" of God, I would imagine there are many windows and doors, as many as might be needed for all of creation to experience the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.
When we make these claims of exclusivity in relation to God's grace we begin to define boundaries. It is the beginning of marking some as God's children, and others as condemned in some way. We are not here to judge. God loves EVERYONE, not just those who share our chosen path to the divine.
Also at risk when we attempt to box God into one religious path is ecumenical understanding and relationships. If we start with Jesus as the only path to God, the only way to receive God's grace, then we fail to recognize the Holy Spirit working in other ways. Worse yet, we may try to force others to walk our chosen path, without regard to the culture or spiritual path of those we try to "save." The Crusades and many missionary efforts are a testament to what can happen when we box God in, no matter how well intentioned we may be. And, if God is capable of creating other paths, other windows to see through, then our efforts are a misguided attempt to board those windows up, to block the other paths. We are trying to play God.
So, what are we, who define ourselves as Christians, to do? "Walk in love, as Christ loved us" (Eph. 5:2, RSV) It is really that simple. When we model ourselves on Jesus, when we follow the two commandments he said were most important - to love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves - when we stop judging and look at everyone as we would Jesus himself, then we live out the Gospel. It is in living it out that we open the door to others to experience God through Christ, and it is in opening ourselves to the many possibilities of God's movement within creation that we can truly "walk in love" with respect and open hearts to the spiritual windows that God has provided to others.
"There is only one path to God... the one you are on."
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
As I sit here in the MSU Redhawk Nest, I listen to the life of the campus (commuters mostly in this case), and think about the beginnings that are all around. For some, the campus is new and unfamiliar. New students launching an entirely different experience of their life journey, blazing a whole new path. For others, they are returning, perhaps to their final year of this college experience. But, whether we are new here, or find these spaces all too familiar, we share a common bond of life, love, fear, joy, pain, expectation...of being a community bound by scholarship, but held together by the connectedness of human beings.
It is most important that we remember as we live and grow in community these words based on a quote attributed to Chief Seattle: "We are not the web of life, we are but a thread of it. What we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
There is a reason these words appear on my contact card (aka. business card).
When we forget that we are all children of God,
when we forget that God loves everyone (and I mean everyone),
when we forget that we are all, everyone of us, responsible for the other,
when we forget that we cannot be full when others are hungry,
when we forget that we are all responsible for what happens to each other
and all of creation,
and all of creation,
then we ourselves are lost.
As a graduate student, chaplain, seminarian, homeowner... the demands on time and space can seem overwhelming, as I believe it to feel for many students, staff and faculty on campus. But I have found that the exchange of energy in the universe is constant, and that in giving, we really do receive. Deepak Chopra says “The universe operates through dynamic exchange…giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.”
So, welcome back to all the possibilities that await you, and to another day to live into all you can be as a child of God, in whatever way you experience that divine presence.