It occurred to me one day as I was looking at some of the world religions from a comparative point of view that many have much in common, but what struck me was that in our search for truth it is perhaps a surprise that God predates all of them.
Islam originates around the seventh century AD, Buddhism about fifth century BC, Judaism, well that one goes right back to the beginning, doesn’t it.
And so I began to think that for us to engage with the true God requires us to overshoot these religions, go back to the root, because mankind has a way of contaminating everything it touches with its politics and power struggles, people majoring on minors, picking specks of dust from a neighbour’s eye while a great plank obscures their view.
So we must find a way to see past them all in order to get a pure understanding of what God, the original life-source wants to communicate to us.
However, the logical progression of that particular thought line, one that is a little scary perhaps, is that if God predates Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, the Rastafarians, Jainists, Taoists and all the rest, God also predates Christianity.
But can the true God predate what Christians believe to be the true faith?
Well yes, I think he can, and let me tell you why. We read in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, of his concern that this new spirituality that he’d had such a major hand in establishing, was already beginning to fragment.
He was appealing for unity, here’s what he wrote: “It have heard that there are contentions among you.
“Some of you are saying, ‘I am of Paul’, others, ‘I am of Apollos’, or ‘I am of Cephas’, and still others claiming, ‘I am of Christ’.”
He was trying, in vain, to persuade them that they’re were all one.
Devout Jewish people have such respect for God that they will not speak his name, perhaps they do not recognise God as even having a name. Indeed when Moses asked for God’s name, all be got was something to the effect of, ‘I AM THAT I AM. This is my name forever, this is my title for all generations.’
This ‘unspeakability’ has long been recognised, but there is a view that it goes even deeper. Formally the word was not spoken at all, but breathed! Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation is an attempt to imitate the very sound of breathing.
So, you could say that the one thing we do every moment of our lives is in effect, speaking the name of God; breathing. It is the first name that crosses our lips as we enter the world and the last as we leave it.
Think about it, there is no Islamic, Christian or Jewish way of breathing. There is no British, Irish or French way of breathing. There is no poor or rich way of breathing. The playing field is utterly levelled. The air of the earth is one and the same air, and this divine wind ‘blows wherever it pleases’ - no one and no religion can control this spirit.
What does this mean? It means that God is as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly - breathe. He is no more approachable by one religious grouping than another.
And I dare you to extend that thought to Catholics and Protestants.