There’s a difference between different ways to get to God and the different ways God uses to get to us.
Since God has many ways to manifest himself to humans––none of which are on equal par with Jesus, who is The Way––we should learn how to affirm those manifestations wherever we find them and build on them to help people find Jesus.
Whenever I’m asked––and a lot of times when nobody’s asking––I show as many photos to friend or foe of one of my phenomenal granddaughters as they can stand. (Feast your eyes on Esme Davi and Aria Joy above! You’re welcome.)
Of course these pix come with narration as I tell them about how she crawls on the floor, giggles when I tickle her, and snores when she sleeps deeply. When they fail to show signs of spellbound astonishment I figure, either they’re ignorant dolts or it has to do with the limitation of two-dimensional photography to show her superior persona. A picture may worth a thousand words, but it’s not the same as meeting this wonderful little human being in the flesh.
Based on my detailed narration of the hundreds of shots I typically share (and that’s the pared down presentation due to time limitations) they should have a pretty good idea of how crazy cute she is. But it won’t be till they meet her that they’ll be as awestruck as any intelligent human with any eye for beauty would be.
Neither the pix nor my infatuated grandpa account of her superiority can do her justice. One must have his or her own personal encounter with her to appreciate my entirely objective appraisal. And for that, they’ll have to get off the couch, turn the ignition, drive in the right direction, and stop at the right address.
But even then, the chances of an actual meeting are slim to none. A stranger can’t just go knock on the door, tell her dad that he wants to meet his extraordinary daughter, and expect to be let in! It would take me being there to make an introduction. Without me, they’re not getting in the door. But if I’m there to introduce them, assuring her dad that these people are okay, they’ve got a much better chance of actually meeting the one I’ve been bragging about.
So, I believe that each religion displays their own photos of God taken from different angles. Each faith seems to have fragments of revelation that the Spirit has deposited in their culture and creed over time. Their view can’t be complete apart from a personal encounter with him, which can only be achieved through Jesus, the only One qualified to make the necessary introductions at the door.
It’s clear to me that non-Christian religions contain some facets of the ways and personality of the true God. Granted, they include flawed ideas about him and propose a trail that leads to someplace other than to his house. Nevertheless, due to the Spirit’s distribution of photos in every human heart, which were taken from many different angles, each faith most likely includes some true views of the true God.
This, by the way, is the reason there are so many similarities between the world’s religions, and even why many of the ancient “mystery religions” that predate Christianity, include creation narratives that parallel the Bible account and Messiah figures that died a sacrificial death and afterwards came back to life.
Regardless where you find it, truth is truth, and all truth is God’s truth. In his quest for relationship, the Spirit deposits many truths in many places, including cultures and creeds.
What jewelers call a “Brilliant Diamond” consists of 58 facets, the cut and symmetry of each is crucial for maximum luminescence. The Creator, I think we’d agree, has a few more than 58 facets to himself, and depending on how receptive people are, they may, even without knowing Jesus, have a pretty good idea of some of those facets.
“To say that religions are mere fabrications is to deny general revelation and God’s prevenient grace. Recognizing truth in other religions does not take any glory away from Jesus Christ. For if all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in him, the truth anyone possesses is a facet of the truth in Jesus, and the result of God’s revelation to them.” Clark Pinnock
- “You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” John 4:22
- “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” Acts 17:23
It seems people may worship God without knowing him. Their religion contains some revelation of the true God. They worship what they know of a God they don’t know, and who can only be known fully in Jesus.
The Creator wants to be known and goes to great pains to make himself known. He entices us to follow up on the photos and facets of him until we eventually stumble onto Jesus, who alone can show all God’s facets and bring out his full luminescence.
- The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being… Hebrews 1:3
- The Son is the image of the invisible God … For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him… Colossians 1:15, 19
- No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. John 1:18
- Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9
- He made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
God can be seen in part and understood in part through creation, conscience, culture, crises, and, yes, even creeds, but can only be known in Jesus. And if that’s true, then let’s share Jesus every chance we get! Let’s respect the light that someone already has, through the photos and facets of God they’ve already seen, and show them more, more of God in Jesus.
“When we approach the man of a faith other than our own, it will be in a spirit of expectancy to find how God have been speaking to him and what new understandings of the grace and love of God we may ourselves discover in this encounter. Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we find ourselves treading on men’s dreams. More seriously still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival.” Max Warren
Did you read The Other End of the Dark? If you did, you’d know that one of my main motivations for surviving cancer was to have grandchildren––and here they are! But since there could be more someday (hint, hint), I’m still in survival mode.