I remember much of my life from my very early childhood. I always could be enticed to talk to someone if they mentioned God. I don’t know why God never ceased to fascinate me, and I also had a real physical fear of the devil.
My father did not talk about God. He witnessed a lot of suffering during the second-word war and didn’t want to talk about it. He would say, “yes, I believe in God,” and change the subject. I grew up in Israel and was taught the old testament in school. We had our lessons and tests, but I was fascinated with the Bible, so I read much of what was not part of the school curriculum, on my own.
By the time I was in grade four I was able to understand, and my childhood faith was shaken. I read about a God who was so mean that I was horrified. He told his people to drag their enemies over spikes and rip them apart, to use the sword to kill babies in pregnant women’s wombs and he punished his own people in most horrific ways if they didn’t obey his messengers. God instructed people to borrow gold and things from the punished Egyptians and leave without paying back, and he used magic to destroy people who had no way to defend themselves against his power.
This was the God that later I discovered was the father of the Messiah that my parents and I believed in. We were told that we must love God above all else, but he was more concerned with making people fear him than making them love him.
I was in my late teens, and a declared atheist when I was exposed to Christian teachings, which I hungrily gulped. Here was a different message about a God who was born human and was teaching another message. Faith was all about love, promoting equality, caring for the community and telling the followers to give up material things and follow him all the way to what he calls “The Kingdom Of The Father.” This added to my confusion since the Father was a mean God, but not all the time.
It was later on that I discovered that the early Christians had a flourishing community of Gnostic Christians who believed that the God of the old testament was not always the same God. I knew a lot of Jews and Muslims who were very good people and believed that the true God is a kind, loving person, and at the same time I know many Christians who are willing to cause much suffering, often for their personal enjoyment and profit. Could the biblical God be different persons?
I like to have coffee in some of our wonderful coffee places on Main Street in Blairmore. Last week I was sitting with some authors at the Stone’s Throws Caffe. That seems to be where authors, artists, and intellectuals gather. Steve, a newcomer to the Pass, brought me his book about God, and it begins with asking me to define who is God.
My approach is to define who is not God. We think that man was made in God’s image, yet we are not permitted to make an image of God or try to imagine what he is. He told Moses that his name is “I am.” and he is a “father” in heaven. Our most repeated prayer begins with “Our Father” not his father or God or anything else. Some of us believe that the Bible descended from God, while others say that if I worship the book, I am worshipping another form of an idol. An idea that is abstract could be a human constructed idol. I am left with the question of who is God.
Back to the beginning, I go, again using the Bible. On my wall, there is a quote from (Mark 3.31 – 35) he said, “here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brothers and sisters and mother.” If he is the son of God and I am his brother than what.
I gather my thoughts. If you really have faith you don’t need belief. A fanatic of any faith has no faith at all. They force people to believe, and the people never do. God doesn’t need the law and ways to enforce it. God can’t be detected by human senses. We meet folks who say things like Jesus told me to do this or that. I think that they refer to their intuition directed by their consciousness. People who say they hear God, while others around them see no sign of it, display a symptom which can be treated. There are however a few recorded and verifiable cases of folks who witnessed apparitions of heavenly entities who imparted information. Those are often associated with (faith) healing and been tested vigorously. I am thinking about Lourdes in France which millions of people visited and been puzzling us for over 150 years.
I look again at Steves book, full of beautiful pictures quotations and questions, the first, “who is God?”
The answer is: faith in God is letting go. The highest knowledge of God is by unknowing and accepting. The question should be, not who is God, but who am I. I am all there is. Without “I am,” there is nothing.