It’s odd how we as humans lock the doors to our minds and the love from our hearts by excluding those who call God by a different name. I won’t name them all but even in the New Testament there are several names for God, such as Emmanual, God, Lord, and then of course, Father. These are all legitimate and acceptable names; so why do we exclude YHWH, or Allah, except out of ignorant pride.
We are taught that the church is a family, a gathering of families that join together in prayer to God. But all too often, the gathering is closed to others who may have a different view. We shall not hear what they have to say. We don’t want to hear it; so, we lock our doors to those who are different. Yet, we say all are welcome! Come, join us; but believe only as we believe. This is neither love for or love from God. We deny we are all one family.
Church becomes this monolith of limited beliefs, losing its young because of its strictness of acceptance. For those with an accepting, listening heart and a mind that is attentive to God’s Word, the reality of the institutional church abandoning the attentive mind moves to the dwindling attendance and even a more limiting mindset because the inquisitive mind is no longer in attendance.
Sadhu Sundar Singh writes: “Both water and oil come from the earth. And though they are similar in many ways, they are opposites in their nature and their purpose. One extinguishes fire, the other gives fuel to the fire. Similarly, the world and its treasures are creations of God along with the soul and its thirst for spiritual truth. But if we try to quench the thirst of our soul with the wealth and pride and honors of this world, then it is like trying to extinguish fire with oil.”
Meditate on this for a while; then apply this to our 21st century life in church. Can we see how the church is engulfed in the flames of its own limited liturgy and rote recital of pledges? My Christian brothers and sisters condemn me as an enemy of Christ; my Jewish and Muslem friends laugh with me over a bottle of wine as we argue the greatly limited divinity of mankind. We argue over minute technicalities of our faiths; we revel in our lively discussions that only increase both our loves for God and all His peoples. God is our church, our family, regardless of what name we use.
©Russell Kendall Carter