Posted on July 30, 2014
A few weeks ago I attended a lunch hour bible study session where I learned a few things: First, in some Christian circles exists the honoring of what is known as the feminine essence of God. Second, this same Christian circle contends the only true way to receive God is by observing the Passover.
Now, of all the inconceivable things my faith has taught me—a man risen from the dead, a talking donkey, a parted sea—God’s feminine essence isn’t one of them. And the idea that my consumption of communion every fourth Sunday suddenly meant I wasn’t really a Christian, or my sins weren’t properly atoned for struck me as troubling. I’m not suggesting Feminine Essence God doesn’t exist. Perhaps She does. Moreover, I’m certainly not insinuating that acknowledgement of the Passover doesn’t have its place in our faith. But my experience with this group illuminated a larger issue I believe impedes the road to personal spirituality.
I want remind you of cinematic classic. In the New Years Eve scene of Forrest Gump we find Forrest sitting in a moldy hotel room watching television with his crippled and bitter companion, Lieutenant Dan. The New Years Eve ball has just dropped indicating a new year and inevitably a new beginning.
“Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?” the lieutenant asks.
“Well—I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.” Forrest responds.
It’s a simple yet provocative scene that lends itself to the broader discussion of how we approach modern spirituality, particularly Christianity. It seems similar to the lieutenant we are groomed to believe the way to Jesus (or Allah, or Buddha, or any other God head) is through seeking. Further, it suggests that in trying to find a Higher Power the onus of our faith (that is: religious faith) is solely dependent upon us. Therein lies the problem because faith was not created as a power to be wielded by humanity through our ability to follow the rules like a treasure map. Faith is a gift given to mercifully walk through life with the assurance there is more.
So what if none of the ritual matters? What if the Passover, the communion, and the honoring of Feminine Essence God are not the way to Christ, but are simply tools to better understand the depth of His love? It’s not a popular perspective. I know. It is, however, certainly one worth considering. Why? Well let’s take, for example, the fact that there are multitudes of self-proclaimed Christians who cannot fully grasp the concept of grace and who are riddled with condemnation. Or, individuals who spend their whole lives trying to perfect their spiritual walk so much so they never truly know what it is to experience freedom. Wasn’t that why Christ died? For freedom?
The rules we create are crippling barriers. In this way we are no more like the Pharisees who took the Mosaic Law and established a system of legalism making it virtually impossible to get face-to-face with Christ. Those who break ritual, like the woman at the well and the thief on the cross gain something that rule following rarely results in—relationship. Ironically these people are almost never looking for Jesus, but somehow He ends up in their lives anyway. This doesn’t diminish the importance of obedience to God. Within the proper context rules can be helpful. Even still, rules should never be a driving force because spirituality and faith are intrinsic.
Back to Forrest Gump for a moment: We never learn whether or not Lieutenant Dan finds Jesus, though we can certainly assume so given the new leg and new bride he debuts when attending Forrest’s wedding. His bitterness is shed and his disposition joyful. He is quite obviously restored. Perhaps not showing the lieutenant’s road to Calvary was intentional because maybe—just maybe—the way he got there doesn’t matter. Maybe it was enough that he became what he was always supposed to be—whole and reconciled. What if this is also true for us? What if the path to the Light is insignificant compared to what walking in the light produces?
I can honestly say I don’t know the way to Jesus, if there is one. What I do know is that when He enters your life however He enters your life, you suddenly realize He was never far to begin with.