I was talking to someone the other day who was distressed about amount of racial and political tension currently. He was even more astounded in how God was being claimed as a justification for the violence and hate. “There is even disunity among Christians!” he expressed. Alas, as the teacher in Ecclesiastes tells us…there is nothing different here (1:9, my paraphrase). But, that is part of our opportunity!
I shared in his frustration – it is beyond troubling! I also explained to him that disunity has been a part of Christian history from the beginning – there were many a debate, from the time of the early church leaders, which led to disunity. At the center of those debates:
- Who is Jesus really?
- Who (or what) is the Holy Spirit?
- And, what is the relationship of God the Father to them both.
Even the disciples, who were hand-picked by Jesus and hung-out with him for three years – 24x7x365, they did not totally understand the distinctives between the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (see Thomas’ role in John 20:24-29 as one famous example).
The problem is some today think they have it all figured out! The sooner we realize that our feeble little minds are incapable of understanding the full nature of God the father or of Jesus Christ the son or his Holy Spirit…the better off we are! Scripture, perfect as it is, contains points of tension in how it reveals the exact nature of God.
Those of us who are seeking God, learning to grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom, experience him in different ways at different times of our growth path. My own understanding of God has morphed, come back full circle, morphed again – somewhere new. Who am I question someone who is genuinely seeking God and experiences him in a different way?
Instead, lets try experiencing each other’s understanding in love – as God would have us do anyway. None of us is capable of FULLY experiencing God, because we are inferior. But maybe through our collective experiences – learning from one another, we can come to understand God better and grow more in love with him while at the same time learning to love each other more. This way we are embracing our differences and understanding of God but also our differences and understanding of who we are culturally as people.
Do not misunderstand me – I believe God is completely in charge, that the Holy Bible is his inspired word and it is all we need for life (um, or perhaps it is all we can hope to comprehend). However, not everyone is signed up for that – or understands the Bible the same way. Yet, they are still spiritual and want to understand.
Here’s the thing, the Bible teaches us to love God and love others. Jesus’ own words tell us to love one another…it was one of his final teaching points (see John 13:34)! I can’t think of a better way to express love than to learn about and embrace our differences, so that we can grow collectively in our understanding of God and understanding of each other.
If this topic is something that interests you, come join our new Meetup group. All faith practices or no faith practice are welcome: whether you are sold out for Jesus, not sure he ever existed, or somewhere in between – you are welcome! The group is designed to be a place where faith explorers can safely learn from each other and grow in understanding about God, love and others.
The first exploration session is September 6th, 6p to 8p at the Wired Goat Café, 709 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC.