Wars have been raged for eons in the name of religion. People have fought and died because they believed that what they believe is true and that every else must believe the way they do. In the name of God so many horrific things have happened in human history; torturous, barbaric, completely inhumane treatment of follow human beings. Cultures and spiritual traditions have been annulated and wiped off the face of the earth. Here we are in the 21st century when people have a greater awareness and understanding of others, yet still it rages. In all of this, it is natural to ask, “Where is God in all this?”
In my experience the question of who or what is God is no longer simply defined and blind acceptance expected. Rather there is understanding that we each have our own individual experience of the Divine. We may use different words for this loving Spirit that created us, but ultimately it is the one Source we are all a part of.
The presence of God in our lives is a unique experience. Whenever I think of this, the story of 3 blind men experiencing an elephant comes to mind. One felt the legs, one felt the tail and the other the truck. They all had completely different ideas of what the elephant was. Each one was sure he was right and couldn’t understand that the other person was also right. It was not in his experience. They just experienced a small part of the elephant.
So it is with our experience of God. God comes to each one of us in a way that we can comprehend for where we are at any given time. We have the experience that will talk to us and be meaningful to us in our lives. When we understand this simple idea the thought that anyone else’s spiritual beliefs or understandings can be wrong fade away.
I recently had the privilege of visiting of Islamic Mosque. We went there with a spirit of love and peace and found that the same spirit welcomed us. This spirit I find in all religion and all spiritual traditions. Deep at the core of every religion is the same message, the message of living in peace with others and wanting to be free to worship and practice their own faith in their own way and allow others to do the same.
The basic principle from Christianity of “Do until others as you will have done until you” is not just a Christian message. It is the message that you will hear from all religions and even those who are not religious or even spiritual. This is a basic principle that the vast majority of people live by. This is the ideal that allows as to live in community that allows us to walk down the street or travel the world in general confidence that we will return home safely.
Saying all this I am aware that there are some in the world whose understanding of God and what it is that God wants them to do, clashes greatly with our experience of a loving God. Their ideas are abhorrent to most of us, just the same as they are to those whose religion they claim they speak for. Remember they don’t speak for everyone of that religion. They only speak for themselves.
Hatred and intolerance are 2 things I don’t understand. I don’t ever want to understand them. What I do understand is Peace and Love. This is what I want in my world. I don’t want to carry with me the darkness that hatred brings, for it solves nothing. It just moves me away from where I want to be; in the light.
I do not close my eyes to what is happening in the world. I will not turn a blind eye. However returning hatred and intolerance with hatred and intolerance doesn’t open anyone’s eyes to the true love that is surrounding them. The love of God does not discriminate and so neither will I. We are all a part of this one loving spirit on this gift of Earth, striving to live together in harmony.
So what can I do? I do not the power of political leaders to make the decisions that will change the world.
If nothing else, what is in my power is to send out this spirit of love and peace from my heart to the world. To pray that those who need comfort will feel comfort it. Those who feel lonely and isolated will feel the presence of the God and the knowledge that we do care what happens to them. Those who feel conflict and hate will be touched by the spirit and have their hearts opened to love and peace. And that those in power will make inspired peaceful decisions.
So where is God in all of this? God is in you, opening your eyes and heart to understand and share in the love and peace that is offered. God is in the humanity you feel and express to those whose lives are in turmoil. God is in the humanity shown to refugees and those living in fear and pain. God is in the prayers that you share that hatred will be transformed into love. God is in the people who stand up and say “Not in my name.” God is in the response of each of us, if we so choose.