Okay, so there are fanatics in the world. I’ve been accused of being one, myself. One thing all religious fanatics have in common is faith. I’m not talking about a simple belief. I’m talking about fully placing one’s trust in something or someone…placing one’s very life in the control of the object of one’s faith. That’s a frightening proposition, yet plenty of people do it every day.
Some people place their faith in God.
It would be easy right here to write that most people don’t place their faith in God. But honestly, there’s no way I can know that.
But I’ll tell you what it looks like from my perspective: it looks like there’s a lot of people who place their faith in their theology rather than in God.
You see, many folks who “take a stand” for their faith seem to justify their “stand” with quotes from their chosen book of scripture. That appears to be why the snake-handlers handle snakes…because the Bible says “true followers of Jesus” will do that. But what does God say?
Maybe God is telling people to handle snakes. But it’s been my experience that when I suspect God is telling me something, and it just happens to align perfectly with my theology, it’s time to check my hearing. Maybe that’s just my ego, which has this annoying habit of coming to me as an angel of light and telling me things that affirm my beliefs.
Is God telling you to discriminate against homosexuals? Or is that your theological image whispering in your ear? I believe God speaks to us through a variety of vehicles: the Bible, a song, prayer, meditation, nature, friends and foes, family, homeless people, prostitutes, music videos, movies, novels…the list can go on forever because I don’t believe there is a vehicle that God will not use.
But there’s one vehicle that I rely upon more than others: Christ in me, the hope of glory.
And the more I focus and pay attention and empty myself of noise, the more clearly I can hear that still, small voice…though “hear” isn’t the right word. There is a ringing in my inner being when I hear clearly. It’s like the little strings in the little particles in the atoms in the molecules in the tissues in the organs in the systems in my body just vibrate and sing for joy. Honestly, I wish I could bottle it and give it away, but that wouldn’t work because everyone operates on a different frequency and every life moves to a different soundtrack.
Which is why one book doesn’t have the answers and why one path isn’t right for every person.
Jesus told the rich young ruler of Mark 10 to go and sell everything he possessed and give the proceeds to the poor. Is that a prescription for all of us? I don’t think so. But if you value your wealth over helping the poor, then perhaps you need to question your faith. Is it in your retirement account? Your bank account? Your career?
No, I’m not telling you to not save for retirement. But God may. That’s between you and God. But I will say, Jesus seems to have demonstrated a definite preference for the lowly and poor and persecuted and if we don’t, well, it just may be because we’re trusting in a convenient theological image of the Christ rather than the genuine article.
Who or what do you really trust?