Today’s post is a follow-up from yesterday’s. In that post, I argued that perhaps a decrease in the percentage of Americans who claim to believe in God could be a good thing – if it means greater honesty with oneself and others.
In today’s America, more than ever before, no particular religious background or pedigree can be assumed. Therefore, there is less peer pressure than there used to be to claim belief in God when one’s life really shows no evidence of such belief.
Today, though, I’d like to take this a step further. Today, I want to suggest that it might be a good thing not only that fewer people claim to believe in God, but even that fewer do believe in God.
How could this be a good thing?
A couple of months ago, I visited the Sikh place of worship here in Euless. This was a couple of weeks after the massacre in Wisconsin, and I felt it important to connect in some way to this particular group of my neighbors. I had not heard of religion being the motivation of that shooting.
I was greeted very warmly; I was even invited to address the congregation. In many ways, I was reminded of my own congregation; people of all ages gathered for common purpose. smaller children move back and forth between parents or other significant adults. I was blessed to have been able to share the experience.
Their road sign proclaims in bold letters, and larger letters than any other words on the sign, that “God is one.” We Christians believe, too, that God is one (though other ‘monotheistic’ groups doubt our resolve as soon as we try to explain the Trinity). There are quite a few religious groups that claim that God is one.
Does this mean that we are all talking about, worshiping, the same God?
I’m not sure.
And I say I am not sure intentionally as a middle way. In some cases, I am rather sure we are not talking about the same God. On the other hand, I understand, interact with, and relate to God differently now than I did 20 years ago. I expect, no, I hope, that my understanding of and relationship with God will continue to grow in the future.
Because my understanding and knowledge of God are not all-encompassing, I am slow to say EITHER we all mean the same thing when we refer to “God,” OR that we don’t.
How are we to know?
This is where, actually, it gets easy. We Christians go biblical. Not in the sense of shooting other people down with claims about God that are based in the bible but by sharing the stories from the bible by which we know who our God is.
As we (increasingly) cross paths and build relationships with people of other faiths, religions, or none-of-the-above, we then can share stories with one another that help each understand what we mean by the word “god.”
If the stories we tell about the god or God we know overlap or correspond, perhaps we do refer to the same god.
So, for starters, if you believe in god, what god is it you believe in? Does the way you live your life conform to this God in whom you claim to believe?
I believe these things can make for great conversation and relationship. Especially now that we don’t all expect everyone else believes in the same god as we do.