God has stopped talking! During any number of “spirited” spiritual conversations I’ve had with other Christians, the discussion inevitably ended when they said to me, “Well, it’s in the Bible, God said it and I believe it.”
It’s as if they have no other source to access God and I wonder that, if to them at least, God has stopped talking. But has He really?
It’s as if this group of faithful feels that God personally visited his earthly creation for a limited number of years, interacted with those inhabiting it, then all that He said and did was accurately copied, translated and assembled into a sacred book known as the Bible. Then, God stopped speaking.
These Christians refer to the Bible when making economic decisions, moral choices and even political policy. But their position begs a question – when treating their son or daughter’s life-threatening illness today, would these same believers follow the recommendations of a 2,000 year-old medical book? Or would they look toward the most recent, proven, and advanced sources for their course of action?
Many Christians (including myself) firmly believe that theirs is a living God who’s Biblical words should be read in today’s context. In addition, God continues to “talk” to them beyond the limits of the Bible. They often “hear,” “see” or “feel” God communicate through such things as poetry, novels, paintings, and music. A number of Christians suggest that God speaks reassuringly through rainbows and sunsets while others see bruising hurricanes, tornadoes, and tidal waves as being sent by an angry, punishing God.
What about prophets? Are Jeremiah, Ezekial, and Isaiah the only voices of God’s wisdom? Or does the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela speak sacred truth today? How about Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson? In a very real way, millions of Catholics believe current Pope Francis speaks for God. And, of course, every Sunday a priest or pastor will let you know what they think God is telling us.
Communication from God, in any form, brings us to a great question. How do we interpret a message from God, no matter whether it’s Bible based or in a different form?
The eminent scholar Joseph Campbell was asked, “What is the meaning of life?” His answer to this complex question was simple: “We bring meaning to life.”
This is also what happens whenever we interpret God’s communication with us, that is, we give it meaning. There are legions of those who want to do it for you. Why not use your ability, experience, conscience and reason to apply meaning to what God is saying to you? Perhaps the greater question; how do we know if we’re interpreting God’s message correctly?
Jesus gave us the “lens” we need to look through in Matthew 22: 37-40, commanding us to “Love your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” That is, if we use any communication from God to diminish or subordinate any person or group of people, it counters what Jesus revealed about God’s overwhelming love for all of us.
My spiritual journey has led me to believe God still speaks. It is equally important to know that we are the ones that bring meaning to His message. Finally, as made known by Jesus, any interpretations must always result in great love for others.
Tom Bresko, retired from Mill Creek Metro Parks, is a Christian on a spiritual pilgrimage.