Do you believe in God? We are told that a majority of the population of the US believes in God. If someone asks you, “Do you believe in God?” how do you answer?
When surveys are done, the questions are simple and straightforward so that the results are clear. In religious surveys, people are asked, “Do you believe in God?” The answer options are usually “yes”, “no”, or “don’t know.” Frankly, if I was called in a phone survey and asked this question, I would find myself in a quandary. Do I believe in God? Well, that depends on how you define or understand “God.” I don’t believe in the God that many people who say they believe in God believe in. So, that might lead me to answer, “no.” If the assumption when asking the question is that every person has her/his unique, evolving, and incomplete understanding of God, then I could say “yes.” As a pastor, I think the expectation is that I would say “yes” I believe in God. And I do believe in God when described in certain ways.
When someone tells me about her experience of God, that she are praying to God, that God has told her to do something, that she believes in God, what I hear someone talking about the God that she knows. Or God as she understands God. I do not assume that she is talking about God as I understand or know or experience God. I think the problems come when we universalize our definition of God and impose it on others or assume that when they are thinking about God they are thinking about our God.
There may be one God, but there are as many understandings of that God as there are people. Maybe what really matters is not so much what a person believes but how they behave.
Lectionary readings for today:
Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23
Prayer: May we embrace the mystery of God and the ethical teachings of Jesus. Amen.