Are we connected to others? What does that really mean? We can all think of things we have in common with certain other people. We can be related by marriage, by blood, by faith. We can communicate easily with those who speak our language, who have been immersed in our culture, and have lived from where we come. But what about being connected beyond that? Am I connected to the man living in Mumbai, India where I have never been and may never go if I have never spoken to him or seen him?
The answer is yes. We are connected to every other person, and not just because we belong to the same species. I’m not speaking about the six degrees of Kevin Bacon either. This is something more primal than culture, more basic than intellectualism. There is a thread that is sewn deeper than even DNA can go because it predates DNA. This eternal link is God. God created human beings and God, in some mystical way, is in each and everyone of us from the dawn of our existence until the day of our extinction. God is even in those who choose to reject God and attempt to nullify God’s existence. Even they have to acknowledge that God exists for others in order to have something to reject.
I discovered this image while traveling around in Southern India, not Mumbai:
(Image courtesy of sanskrutibyvenisons.com)
It clearly depicts the peaceful coexistence of three of India’s major religions: Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. It’s not a statement that they share the same beliefs, the same theology, or the same practices, but that they can manage to live side by side, in harmony as neighbors. We do not have to fully agree with one another to live together without violence, hatred, or discord, but can we find what we do share and celebrate the commonalities. While I have friends who are not Christians, there is something sacred and precious about their devotion to their faiths. My Jewish and Muslim friends do worship the same God I do, but my Buddhist and Hindu friends do not. While other religions do not articulate the same God I know and love, there is a sense that their divine teaches them, guides them, and compels them to act in love toward others. I often stop to wonder if God is moving there too. “God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend” (Job 37:5 NRS). I would not begin to presume to know exactly where God is moving and pin down what God is doing, but I can sense the divine moving within others. Is God leading them to the same end place that God has been calling me? I do not know, but I have hope that this all mighty God of Grace that I serve is extending his hand to all people in a language they can comprehend in a way they can follow. I am content to ponder and marvel at the faith of others even when it is not my beloved Christianity, and know that God connects me to them with invisible strands too fine for my mortal eyes and too strong for my preconceived notions to break us apart.
“For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. From them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud– which draw the bow– to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your kindred from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring a grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them as priests and as Levites, says the LORD. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain” (Isa 66:18-22 NRS).
God who made so many tongues,
Your people call out to you in more languages than I can name.
You can hear each one and recognize their voices,
Your power is revealed in your intimate knowledge of every human being.
While I cannot fully comprehend your ways,
Let me see the beauty of your presence in others.
May I marvel at your ability to speak to all people,
And connect me to a world so vast that I will never cover every inch.
Do not let my fears separate me from you or others,
But pull me closer.
Guide me in your awesome ways.
All honor and glory to you.