Some years ago, our church hosted an inter-faith day of meditation. We put an ad in the local New Age newspaper, and made it a decidedly non-Christian event. Each group was asked to lead a meditation according to their tradition and then say a few words afterward. When it was my turn, I led a Christian meditation.
In my words afterward, I reminded people about the ad that had invited them:
Recognizing we have more in common than our differences, we invite you to meet together…
Hosting such an event raised a bit of a flap with a few churches in town, but I am glad we did it. Because of the way we Christians have interpreted the Bible, we haven’t been very good at seeing the things we hold in common with other traditions. We’ve tended to focus on our differences instead. As you might imagine, I believe it has been a mishandling of our historical doctrines; a misinterpretation of our scriptures, that has made ours a religion of exclusion.
When I spoke to that group, I talked about how we Christians often assume we have exclusive access to God’s Truth. (They were not surprised.)
“I’m sorry,” I said.
Jesus taught us better. Jesus modeled for us inclusivity, openness to the outsider, and helpfulness. Jesus said that those not against us are with us. He gave us a mission to better the earth; heal what has become ill, and not to be overly concerned about who is in or out. Jesus’ was a simple Way… an open and inviting Way.
As in the case of meditation, many times we have terribly missed the point. However, I offered that gathering, there is some good news. Across our nation, many Christian communities are coming to our senses. A grass-roots movement is afoot to restore to us a clearer picture of the Divine, of spirituality, and of the journey.
Yes, we lost our way. We became very powerful during the Roman Empire and after the Enlightenment. That power corrupted us. Power does that. But give us a little time, I asked, and once again we will become good neighbors. Our Jewish heritage taught us tikkun olam, the call to be “repairers of the earth.” It’s in our DNA. Give us a little time to find our way again, and we’ll return to the teachings of Jesus; we’ll return to the love, life, grace, and goodness he taught us.
In this series of posts, I’ve told the story of how I came to believe that an important way we’ll find our way back, is to restore our contemplative heritage.
NOTE: If you’re interested; I did a website about how misinterpretations of our doctrines and scriptures have gotten us into the trouble we’re in. Click HERE.