I met with a Catholic priest this last week.
And for that to mean anything to you, you have to understand that while I have had a few brushes with Catholics (babysitting, amazing passionate roommates in college, awesome friends) I have never had a theological conversation with a Catholic priest. I grew up in a Christian home, sure, but as I grew up my family always attended non-denominational churches…except for Christmas and Easter when we went to the Lutheran church my grandparents attended. I don’t think I was ever of the opinion that Catholics aren’t Christians – like some people who grew up as I did. I mainly knew Catholics went to “mass” instead of church, prayed to Mary, and had pictures of people with shiny, golden halos. Obviously, I was rather uneducated.
And so, as an adult, to hear another member of the faith’s view of God, eternal life, and life in general, was pretty eye-opening for me. To be taught a very little bit about how a Catholic views life and redemption and sins, was intriguing, encouraging, challenging. The things that caught my attention most though, were the reverence and total commitment. The wonderful man I spoke to had such a very different view of God. This man was definitely committed to God; I sincerely doubt that he was in it for the money, fame, or glory (because, you know, there is so much money, fame or glory in true ministry). There was just something … deep and solid about him. And while I did not agree with all of the theological points he covered with me, I still walked away with a greater understanding and view of who God is.
I think this is important, and I think we do not do it enough. We read books whose message we agree with. We are friends with those who think as we do. How often do we actually engaged in conversation someone, who while having the same fundamental beliefs as us, disagrees with our view of God. How much of God are we missing out on because we think we understand Him completely and correctly, that we have no room for new ideas, or different sides of Him that we have never engaged?
For instance, I know that each of my friends brings out different parts of my personality. While my foundational character never changes, the kids I work with bring out the goofy in me that some of my “grown-up” friends never see. Not because I’m trying to hide the goofy side of me, but simply because nothing in their personality calls out the goofy in me.
I think the same is true of God. It is imperative that YOU encounter Him in your life, engage Him with everything you are. But also talk to other people about God – especially those you don’t see eye-to-eye with. Learn how they experience God, learn what He has done for them, and HOW.
I often am a victim of my own experiences. In that, because God worked one way with me, I expect Him to work the same way with everyone else. But that’s not how God works. He works differently through everyone.
And so, figure out how God works in someone else. Talk to them about how they seem Him, and why.
Learn to see the different sides of God. Learn to know God better, that you might love God better.
Now, it needs to be said while I am all for engaging different ideas, I in no way believe the whole “everyone gets to god in their own way, there are many paths, all religions talk about the same God” thing. Nope. None of that. The only way to God is through Jesus. He said so; incredibly clearly (John 14:6). However, once you have the crucifixion, resurrection, and salvation as the foundation of your theology, there are many other less-important ideas that need to be discussed.
Now, THAT being said, I am NOT saying, “Never talk to someone of a different religion”, because that’s not the case either. Definitely talk to them. Be friends with them. We need that sort of friendship, and they do too.