How frustrating would it be to be able to speak every language in the world fluently and yet have a language of your own that no one else could speak? Imagine that. Here you are able to understand everyone in their native tongue, but no one can understand you when you speak yours. What’s worse is that most of these people only speak one language. They have no interest in learning other languages. They expect to be understood by others, but have very little desire to understand others. They appreciate you for “getting them”, but when you try to share some of the nuances of your own language, they shut down. Even when you try to use their own language to explain the deeper meaning behind your own thoughts as they connect to your native language and culture, they get frustrated because you are taking too long to get to the point. So what do you do?
Well maybe you just accept your situation. You realize that you can understand others, but you can never be understood. Or could you? Maybe you can create a reference book of some kind for the people who are interested in getting to know you. With a book, they can do self study and not have the pressure of having you watch them as they try to figure out what you’re saying. You know people don’t like admitting that they don’t know something and they hate making mistakes. They’d rather get better “on their own” and then approach you. In their imagination, they believe that if they could somehow learn your language on their own, when they finally approach you they’ll be able to pretend like they always knew it. That’s how they are. You know that, because you understand them so well. So you decide that the book is definitely the way to go for everyone’s sake.
Of course you couldn’t just write one book. You would have to write a book for every language and culture that uses concepts that they understand. You might have to use stories and a lot of illustrations because it’s hard to get to the point when the readers don’t already have a frame of reference. The hope of all of these books will be to teach the people how to be with each other and learn to work together despite their differences. If they can make peace with the differences among themselves, then they will be that much closer to understanding the person who understands all of them. Unfortunately, you are going to have to be infinitely patient, because even if you write all of these books, you cannot force the people to read them or understand them. All you can do is wait and hope that enough of them “get it” that it starts to catch on. Of course you know that this won’t be as easy as it could be. Before people master the higher messages of the books, they will treat them like any other cultural artifacts and relics. They will see their book as better than all other books. They will disagree among each other on what the books say, because inevitably they will only pay attention to the parts that make sense to them or on the parts with which they already agree. But you create the books anyway if not for any other reason than that they offer hope.
You have been around a long time. You know that people have questions that they can’t help but ask. They are the questions that drive them forward in life. But you also know the danger of finding easy answers to those questions. The human fear of being “wrong” is intense. It is very close to being insane. They will die and kill for what they believe are the “right answers”. So your books tell them to stop worrying about the “right answers” and to concentrate more on living with the “right questions” because it is the questions that lead you into “right relationship”–a relationship of mutual understanding with you. Having a relationship with you and being able to trust you is as good as being able to speak all languages, because you can translate between all people ensuring that they understand each other through you. And imagine what’s possible if everyone learns your language for themselves. What beautiful possibilities?
So you are satisfied with the idea of the books. It excites you. When they are complete, you know that people will ask a lot more questions and you will be there to answer them. All that is required of them is the humility to admit that there are things that they do not know and that they hold their current answers a little more loosely. Yes, it is scary to admit that their lives are based on incomplete knowledge, but whose isn’t? There is always someone who know something that you don’t know. That’s why we share information. Through your books, hopefully people will get that. Hopefully when they have questions they will seek you for the answers rather than solely relying on others who are acting out of their own incomplete knowledge. What’s that saying about the “blind leading the blind”? But not to worry. Someday they will see. When they come to the awareness that they were all always only understood by you, they will have less cause to fight among each other and less cause to run from you when you try to teach them something.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
I hope that little story thing I wrote above conveys the message I was trying to offer. If not, I hope that the verse above gives a clue. Finally, if you have not watched the short video above, watch it and then reread. But just in case none of these attempts make sense, let me spell it out, “We all agree on the questions in life. We only fight over the answers.” Let this sink in. No one argues over questions. It’s the answers that are driving us crazy. Why? Consider the source. Most of us will not admit this, but we are afraid to confront and engage God directly. We worship churches, groups, interpretations, science, thoughts, books, nations, cultures, etc. and call that a relationship with God or we use the emptiness of some of these institutions as a reason to deny God. Don’t get me wrong, all these things are useful. I attend church and I read some of the Bible everyday. But I’m aware that at their best, they point us in the direction of God, but they are not God. Only God is God. So only God can reveal God to anyone. And as our Creator only God is equipped to teach us about who we really are. Unfortunately, too many of us rely on those very things above to tell us who we are and who God is, when they don’t have the power to do so. Out of context and not in perspective the very creations that should point us to God can become idols in many ways no different than me making a statue and then me asking the statue to tell me about myself. What was it that Jesus said? “Sabbath was created for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.”
I am sharing this with you because this is the best I have to give right now. Let’s face it, I have chosen to be a Christian, so in some ways even the language I use to express my belief that God meets everyone on their terms is biased by my tradition. But I know that it is. I am not fooling myself to believe that I can fully understand the experience of people who choose different paths. I can only say that I trust God and that my Bible has pointed me toward a God who I understand to be so in love with each and every one us that They would go through the greatest hell we could imagine in order to get to Us. And then after we put God through that hell God will still say, “I love you no less than if you had always trusted me and stayed by My side.” I choose to believe that God knows we are confused even when we don’t want to admit it to ourselves–not to say anything about others. And I believe that somehow God can take our confusion and use it to do wondrous things. But in order to experience these wonders, we have to admit that we don’t “get it all” and allow God through Life to reveal to Us the reality only God knows–the Reality that even includes all of our limited points of view on what reality is.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.