Suggested Reading: Chapters 16 & 17
“Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible…all things have been created through him and for him.” -Colossians 1:15
“For in him, we live and move and have our being.” –The Apostle Paul, Acts 17:28 quoting the Greek poet Aratus
The Holy Spirit preexists all religions, cannot be contained by any single religion, and therefore can’t be claimed as private property by any one religion.
What we call secular is actually the realm or domain of the Spirit.
In other words, we would expect the one Holy Spirit to be moving, working, “hovering” over each religion—and also in the space between religions, inviting people into conversation, exchange, even communion, across the boundaries that have in the past separated them.
The thing that continually stands out to me about Jesus is his inclusivity in his relationships and interactions. I never get the sense that anyone was out of sight, out of mind with Jesus. Everyone, even those feisty and short-sighted Pharisees were invited to take part in God’s kingdom. Jesus knew how to keep the most important thing the most important thing: Love your neighbor as God loves us.
Have you ever considered that maybe we’ve gotten Christianity all wrong? Not that the version we’ve inherited is necessarily bad, but is it possible that what we thought was most important about being a Christian is actually misguided? Maybe even a little harmful?
It is very easy to cling so tightly to something that it changes ever so imperceptibly until it becomes an entirely different thing. I think that is the case when we look at how followers of Jesus have, over periods of time, treated people of different religious faiths. Instead of seeing Muslims, Jews or Hindus as our neighbors in need of our love, grace and friendship, they have been treated with animosity for not believing as we do.
And yet, what if “what we call secular is actually the realm of the Holy Spirit”? What if what we judge as outside of God’s favor is in fact being gathered, blessed and sent for the advancement of God’s kingdom? What if the Holy Spirit isn’t ours to hoard or defend as Christian believers, but rather we are but one expression and body part of the whole Holy Spirit’s work in our midst?
Is it possible that all religions play a part in God’s creative, reconciling love for all things?
*Check out Brian McLaren's interview on MPR's new show "Flyover" (from 10/15/17) which discussed religion here: