Who is God outside of what religion has informed us? Can we receive Gods Word, guidance, and revelation outside of scripture? Can the ideas, and concepts of God be understood without religious language and iconography
Religion is a system of practices and beliefs that translate spiritual phenomenon into comprehensive language, concepts, ideas and images. It is an attempt to inform us of the Divine Truth that is beyond and above the range of normal physical human experience. It assigns identity and purpose to the physical and the spiritual, man and God, life and death, the known and unknown. It is the voice of God speaking into the lives of mankind.
We trust religion because it has done all the research, cracked all the codes and can answer all our questions about the mysteries of God, the universe and mankind, what else is there to know or discover when religion claims to have the ultimate truth. Religion gives us God according to its own understanding describing Gods character, abilities, desires, personality, etc. So, in each religion we have a God that is presented in customized packaging that can’t be confused with another; that’s why you’ll never confuse Jesus with Muhammad or Buddha with Krishna nor their messages.
My question today is, who is God outside of what religion has informed us? Can we receive Gods Word, guidance, and revelation outside of scripture? Can the ideas, and concepts of God be understood without religious language and iconography. Think about the God religion has given you, the picture it has painted the characteristics and personality it has attached to God and consider how much of that “defining, describing, and decoding of God” you have contributed to according to your own spirituality, and experiences with God.
The priest and the theologian are not the only people able to comprehend and discuss matters of the Divine. God is relational and deals with mankind in personal ways. God guides you on your specific path, blesses you according to your particular needs, and communicates with you one on one. This personal God desires a personal relationship where we get to know God for ourselves beyond what we have heard or have been told. Just as you were created to be one of a kind so also a one of a kind relationship with God is available that may look different than what religion is telling us is even possible.
Back before the rise of e-commerce, before Amazon, Door Dash, Insta Cart and shopping apps people like my parents physically went into the grocery store and shopped. They made decisions on what to buy based on exploration of the products in the store, curiosity, and a critical examination of the items. Things like size, price, value, their three kids, and how the products contributed to a better quality of life were all factors that determined the usefulness of the product. They didn’t shop with apps, like we have today, that take the critical decision making out of shopping with instant product reviews telling us what’s the best buy, what has worked for everyone else, and what has the most stars.
Don’t get me wrong, I love apps. A few weeks ago, I used my Kroger app to compile a digital shopping list and headed to the store. The app guided me up one aisle, down another and around the store directing me to what I was looking for with swiftness and perfection.
Peanut butter aisle 12. Check! Lemon juice aisle 3. Got it!
Taco Bell soft taco kit ai le 5. Sweet!
Taco sauce aisle 7, uh…
Wait a minute it’s not where the app said it is. How is there no more taco sauce when the app says the store has 15 bottles on the shelf. I looked at the image, and aisle location on the app, then looked at the shelf, nothing! Again, I looked at the image on the app and looked at the shelf, nothing! Confused, I stepped back to take a more detailed look at all the shelves but still no taco sauce.
It was frustrating, I placed trust in the app because it had done all the research, cracked all the codes and was able to answer all my questions, what else is there to know or discover when the app claims that what it offered was the best thing for me, my ultimate truth. Faced with a mystery, I put the guidance of the app away and began to critically examine the items myself. I became curious and started exploring the shelves, picking up bottles and reading, doing my own investigative work. Once I put the app away, I was free to research and discover truth for myself, I had no biases, no prejudices, no preconceived ideas or limited perceptions and understandings of how things were supposed to look. I ultimately found what I was looking for; same product just wrapped in different packaging. My eyes were closed to discovery, truth, and experience in any other manner than what the app had informed me.
So that got me thinking about how we are missing out on new spiritual experiences, new discoveries of God and exciting new encounters with the Divine because we're looking for familiar religious images, recognizable presentations of Divine Truth and denomination friendly ideas of Divine Reality. Our focus is on what we have been told is the only possibility, therefore we reject everything else as false. Religion gives us a spiritual shopping list that we’re regualry looking to fulfill, there is faith, devotion, praise and worship, and a connection with God just to name a few.
Are we only searching for faith, devotion, praise and worship, and a connection with God in familiar packaging? If so, I say we’re missing out on experiencing a newly packaged kind of faith, devotion, praise, worship and connection with God. We miss out when we cease to recognize God as a mystery and stop being curious about who and what God, Divine Truth, and Ultimate Reality is.
Who are you without religion? Can you determine your moral values, identity, purpose, calling, life's meaning outside of religion? How does spirituality, prayer, worship, praise, faith, love, connection with God and enlightenment look outside of religion? Is it difficult to answer these questions? Maybe that’s because you've been conditioned to recognize God and spiritual phenomenon in a very limited way. God is not limited so why should your understanding of God be limited to a set of guidelines? Is God not beyond human guidelines?
I’m not speaking against religion, What I am speaking against is total dependence on what any religion tells you about God and accepting that definition to be the final word on who and what God is. God is indeed mysterious and beyond human conception therefore there will never be a final word on who and what God is.
The Tao Te Ching describes the mysteriousness of the Tao, or ultimate power (God).
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
Being that God is unknowable in all Gods completeness, there are endless opportunities for the curious to experience and know God. When we accept God as a mystery, we will always be obligated to investigate and be enlightened by the mysteries of God.
Your Bible is not God, your religion is not God. Many think they’re worshipping God but they’re actually worshipping scripture and religious doctrine. Their Holy Book and religion are their guiding light and where their ultimate devotion and trust rest and therefore is their God.
The Bible is not the only place where God speaks to us. God also speaks to Muslims through Muhammad and the Qur’an, Taoist through Lao Tzu as the Tao and our Jewish brothers and sisters through Moses and the Torah and Hindus through the Veda and Upanishads. God is always present and active we just don’t notice because we’re only looking in one direction waiting for God to show up.
We trust religion to define for us the image, character, abilities and concerns of God for us. We accept what has been given to us and leave it at that with pride, confidence and assurity that what has been given to us is nothing less than the full revelation of God as made known to man. It’s the final word, there is nothing else to be discussed, disclosed, described, debated, or defined in regard to God; it has all be laid out plainly.
But what if we’re wrong? What if religion got it wrong? What if there is no final word on God, no appropriate description, no comprehensible image, no conceivable depth of understanding that can be said to be the final, complete and exclusive true understanding.
We know God to be great, wise, loving, kind, but God is beyond those things, beyond the imagination, ideas and explanations of man and religion. God is actually mysteriously great, mysteriously wise, mysteriously loving, mysteriously kind, mysteriously God. When we remember that unknowable quality of God, we remain curious and are intrigued to go deeper than limiting ideas, words and images.
The solar system, the human body and the great depths of the ocean are mysteries to men and still being researched, explored and investigated because scientist remain curious. If these mundane things, these creations of Gods can’t be fully understood with no final word on them, how can religion claim to have a final word, an ultimate description and understanding of the numinous God that created such great mysteries?
There is more to God than we are experiencing more discoveries have yet to be revealed. You may say the Spirit will teach me all things I need to know, this is true and all knowledge of God comes through Spirit yet if you are unable to interpret the message, unable to decipher the communication of a newness of God than you will miss what is being revealed. Our spiritual curiosity needs to be exercised so our spiritual vocabulary can be increased; we need new attributes to address God, new ideas to express God, new ways to worship, new ways to speak to God, new and inspiring material to read to explore the mysteries of God.
Jesus makes this plain in Matthew 24:36, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Even the Holy Spirt does not know all there is to know about God, 1 Corinthians 2:10 says, “The Spirit searches the deep things of God”
There is a mysteriousness about God even to Jesus. If the Holy Spirit and Jesus do not know God in fullness and have to seek to discover how much more should we learn to be curious and do the same. We have to remain spiritually curious never resting at a place where we feel we have completely understood or defined Divine Truth. We can recognize Divine Truth because its quality is unlike anything else, yet we can’t claim to know it in its completeness by calling its revelation to us final.
We have to increase our spiritual vocabulary in order to comprehend the mysteries of God. We have to allow ourselves to be inspired by nature, be overtaken by the presence of God in stillness, and be refreshed by the newness of God communicated to us through the Spirit of God.
Get curious and step outside your comfort zone by investigating the mysterious God. Explore new ways of prayer, new ways of worship, read other sacred texts for insight on God. Be inspired by the words of a poet by finding the beauty of God in the words. Since all giftings and callings come from God, a person utilizing a spiritual gift, operating in a calling is doing so as inspired by God. Therefore, the work that results is divinely inspired. So, we have divinely inspired writings, art, music – beautiful soul stirring creations that point to God.
Practice quietness and stillness to come into the presence of God. Spend time alone in silence resting your mind, as your spirit and the Spirit of God communicate. Allow yourself to float above consciousness, beyond the physical, outside of earthly concerns and limitations.
Look to science and the solar system to witness the great creativity of God. The vastness of space and how the universe operates. The beautiful colors of a supernova, the formation of star clusters, the patterns and characteristics that make planets unique. The complexities of the human body, how all organs and cells work together in harmony, how humans are born, grow, and learn. Chant, meditate, journal; seek God in ways that you have not in order to find God in ways that you never have before.
God, we seek to know you more. We seek to know you by new names, in new ways and through new experiences. We come to you humbled by our lack of words to describe you. We ask to be rewarded with revelation as we seek you as the curious, the eager, the needy of your Glory. Give us an increased spiritual vocabulary so we may communicate with the Spirit in advanced ways. Give us spiritual sight to see, spiritual ears to hear, and Holy hearts to feel your leading on our journey of discovering you beyond all understanding.