The interior of the magnificent Weltenburg Abbey, found on the narrowest section of the Danube River, is dedicated to Saint George. The interior of the building is magnificently decorated in Baroque style. It is wonderful art but does it help us glorify God or man?
In the past 8 years I have been fortunate to travel in Egypt, in Africa, in South America and now through Europe. Since spiritual things are interesting to me, I have been in places of worship wherever I go, including around Australia. I have seen Kenyans dressed in their Sunday best walk long distances on dusty roads to worship in tin sheds and I have stood in “Pillars of the Earth”‘ – Mosques, Synagogues and Cathedrals on four continents.
After my post on Christian Liberty in Historic Germany, Birgit asked why so many religions? Do we all work for the same Boss? This is such a good question, deserving of an answer. This is my humble attempt.
In short there is One Boss. It is a poor human term because all our bosses work within a framework bound by time. Our plans come to nothing when we die and so do our boss’s. The thing about our Creator God is that He had a plan before time and matter were formed. It is hard for us to think outside the barriers of our experience – we are materialistic and bound by time, so it hard for us to understand and easy to either deny such a possibility, or reinvent a God of our own, in own image.
Birgit said that Jews, Christians and Muslims seemed to be worshipping the same God so asked why did they not agree more? It is true that what Christians call the Old Testament is also revered by others. One thing I believe that both those groups have absolutely right from the OT is their refusal to portray God in a material form, like statues and paintings. Some Christian churches have explained away this “tradition” as just to avoid idolatry but I think is an important reflection that God is greater than His creation and infinitely greater than anything that we make – an antidote to pride.
I do not think we find God in buildings but in His Word. We do not go to church to be inspired by architecture or art but rather to increase in our knowledge and Faith through sharing the Word left for us by God.
The Old Testament revealed that in God’s plan He would send a mediator so that we could communicate with him. The Jews refused to accept Jesus Christ as this promised Messiah and crucified Him. Part of the Plan? yes! Muslims accept Jesus was a Prophet and accept some of His teachings but deny his often given authority to be God incarnate on Earth. This means that, while we are all “People of the Book”, Jews and Muslims do not have the same promise and assurance of salvation. They are still bound by the same rules and codes of the Torah and the Koran, impossible to fulfil because of our sinful, human nature, condemning them to punishment. They still have the same Boss though.
What about pagans then? Check the dictionary – the meaning I am using is those who are not Jews, Christians or Muslims. This grab bag could contain all kinds of polytheists (many Gods), pantheists (nature worshippers), agnostics (not sure if there is a God and if there is not interested in them) and atheists (absolutely sure there is no God, no Creation, it all just happened). With those simple descriptions, I am sure I have offended someone but then – they still have a Boss, they just don’t know or acknowledge Him (try that with your Boss at work!).
Why would God leave them ignorant of himself? Why not just dazzle everyone with miracles until they have to believe?
Jesus taught his disciples in Luke 8 after they observed that many listeners did not understand his Parable of the sowers, when they saw it’s meaning.
Luke 8:10 “And He said, “ To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand”
In God’s plan He chose a people, not because they were better, but because they were His (just like we choose our kids, hey!)
Unfortunately, lots of people think Christian’s are arrogant because they know the Boss, because He knows them. Instead of being resentful, maybe they should consider whether the Boss knows them too?
If you have read this far – congratulations! Please feel free to give me some feedback or ask questions. As a bonus (to myself an indulgence) another picture and caption.
Dohány Street Synagogue pictured here is the second largest in the world. It is a beautiful building and the young man who showed it to us was passionate to explain how it was used in the worship of God. It holds 3000 people but there are now only 200 families attending. Before WW2 there were more than a million Jews living in Hungary, mostly in Budapest. SIx hundred thousand were killed, executed or starved during the conflict because they were Jewish. There are 3,500 bodies buried in mass graves in the garden outside, executed as the Red Army approached to liberate the city from the Germans
Sometimes loving the Boss doesn’t make you popular.