It has occurred to me that my recent posts about spiritual journey that every one is on could sound like relativistic, pluralistic dribble. On the contrary, my intention is not to support views of many roads to the same god but more to acknowledge that we are all seeking some sort of meaning and connection to a Higher Power than ourselves. Granted many attempt to cultivate that Higher Power within themselves through power and influence. And as in the classic case of the “rich young ruler,” we may dupe ourselves into thinking that are intentions are genuine only to have someone who sees our true intentions. So we are all on a search for God, although may end up creating gods for ourselves.
I have thought often and with humble remorse of comments made by CS Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters. Early in the book he talks about how in creating an idea of God we have actually created our own god, thus when we pray and our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, it is probably true that our god is in fact deaf or powerless to attend to our wishes and requests. Lewis seems to echo Jesus when he suggests that thoughts of hatred and lust mean we are actually guilty of murder and adultery.
I have been reading John Piper’s contribution to The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. At the end of his chapter he makes a point about connection of vision in friendship. He talks about friendship being where we stand shoulder to shoulder with someone. In this kind of relationship he says the perspective of the friends is important because we really need to be able to see the same things with a level of agreement. If we do not have agreement, specifically in regard to our idea of God, he says that a deep friendship cannot exist.
This is quite disturbing to me. In light of the idea that I have of God really being of my own devices, does it really matter so much that we agree? I think it is naive to think that even people who are part of the same denominational group hold all beliefs and ideas about God in common, but agree on enough that we can stand together. But to suggest that we cannot have deep and meaningful relationships with people who do not agree with us? Considering how many different fundamental ideas people have about God based on the same 66 books, are there not ways to have conversations with one another? Frankly, I think this is exactly what Jesus did and left to us as an example. Look at the men that he chose to be his 12 apostles, I mean they were still scratching their heads after he ascended and they continued to argue with more lessons to come.
Paradoxically, though, I think John Piper is exactly right. If we can connect to the basic human condition that has embedded within us the desire and longing for God, then we can find that level of common ground and agree that we are in fact on this journey together. When we also are humble enough that we are all equally inadequate at understanding the ineffable God of the universe, then we can see that we are not so different from everyone else we encounter.
No doubt this is a difficult task when we sit down with people we could easily despise. Then there are those moments where people like James Dobson sit down with Ted Bundy and agree that there is a God who is willing and ready to forgive.