As I indicated in one of my last entries, I feel something of a shift has occurred in terms of what God is doing on the Earth. My earlier assumption was driven by the international focus on Middle Eastern rioting, predominately among Muslims; and now people in general have joined the movement with the outbreak of Occupy.
There seems to be a stirring in the hearts of men, old and young, for a new freedom from tyranny; the tyranny of leaders, some who have taken extreme political positions in the name of religion; others, who through greed have learned to capitalize on the masses and the natural resources of our globe. Yes, that same stirring is now spreading across our own land, not just the novelty of social networking, but a recoil to a capitalism that has become the religion of the masses, the aftermath of greed in this post-Christian nation.
Limited is my knowledge of Islam, though I may have now read more than the average American Christian from The Qur’an and other books offered by friends. Those friends, more than one a practicing Muslims and one, an African Muslim, has converted to Christianity. The latter was really revealing, though I was informed by one of my practicing Muslim friends that he was “simply a weak Muslim.” It seems that all religions have a way of limiting the actions of those who might consider another faith or even a denomination; I know that to be true among Christians.
To believe that God is at work in all faiths, one has to believe that God is a God of love and in fact a superior love to what most individuals demonstrate, even at their best. Then come the questions: Will all faith’s lead to God?, Is God love?, Does love alone cover a multitude of sins? The latter statement is from the New Testament.
This is the God who walked in the cool of the day with Adam, even prevented His access to the tree of life after his fall, until a means of re-entry might be provided; that is, access into the joyously fulfilled life for which he and his spouse were created. Whether the reader still buys into the Genesis account, or other stories, for that matter found both in the Old Testament Bible and the Qur’an, I hope you will be open enough to hear the heart of this fellow citizen.
From my point of view, this is the same God of Abraham who provided a substitute ram for the Dad, who in his zeal to please God, was about to take the life of his own son Isaac; or if you are Islamic in your tradition, Ishmael. This is the God, from whom Hagar received blessing as she fled from a jealous Sara; a blessing much similar to that given to Abraham for Sara’s first born, read it for yourself in Genesis 19:15-21.
My thoughts this a.m. were partially seeded yesterday, as I spoke with a friend troubled by the lingering loss felt since the passing of her mother some years ago; thoughts of unworthiness and doubts of having ‘done enough” to merit the love of her mother or the communion of her mother’s God. We just do not understand love!
My favorite prose, though I refrain from providing its entirety, is the Velveteen Rabbit: “‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’” Real as the Skin Horse describes only comes about through being loved.
Religion has skewed the intent of our Creator; that is to love us back to the reality for which we were created.
Possibly, we stand at a moment in time that affords the privilege of seeing first-hand the enormous and global works of God? This God, who has preserved tiny Israel against all odds while over time, blessing numerous Gentiles nations, even our own America and against all odds given our struggles with racism, capitalism and now greed.
As well, it seems that Muslim families are flourishing, God perhaps finally broaching the covenants made to Hagar’s son, at a time when Muslims are both feared by fundamentalist Christians and hated by many Jews; let alone the fact that Islam is now a source of global terrorism among its most radical sects. Something is up beyond mere economics on this globe?
Could this God who required a sacrifice for the sins of Adam, have simply been setting up those then necessary rituals, so that we could not miss the moment when He became sin for us? Himself living among us, hated by us and finally nailed to a tree, from which He looked down upon the masses and offered forgiveness (to all of us), for we did not realize what we had just done!
Yet, in defense our own particular religion, we struggle to hold only the parts of the story that fit our tradition; myself, guilty at times. For the Jews another Messiah is required; for Christians we work hard in our churches to gain acceptance by this God who offered Himself for our sins; for Muslims, there is a reverence for Jesus, but a denial that He was God become flesh (many Christians are even there by lifestyle). As well, another city than Jerusalem is necessary for Islam, their Prophet Mohammed offended early on by both Jews and Christians; a prophet, who himself testified to his own sinfulness in his earlier writings of the Qur’an.
For God so loved the world that we might one day become real! Laying aside religion for the love of God, knowing that we are not worthy of such love, having rejected both God and each other; now confronted of our sins by a globe that is increasing smaller and hardly able to sustain the three major, let alone hundreds of other religious sects. Are we content to run this thing into the ground or shall we talk, become real; loving each other and trusting that this God of love, cares enough to walk us forward, if we will but desire to walk with Him?