God Does Not Fit in Your House
May 16, 2014
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. (John 14: 1-7)
Sitting in the airport in Port-au-Prince, one of my high school students struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler. After she explained to him that we’d been in Haiti visiting our sister school, doing medical work and investigating the progress of a new well, he became enthused. In the wide-eyed, chipper manner of the very earnest, he told her that his group was also in Haiti doing mission work. During the mornings, they worked at an orphanage, and during the afternoons, they went door to door “spreading the gospel of Jesus.”
On the flight home, my student related this to me with no small amount of bemusement. “I doubt they speak Kreole,” she commented, “so I don’t know how well that worked.”
“Well,” I replied, “think about what we’ve seen in Haiti. This doesn’t strike me as a place that lacks Jesus.”
In fact, it was the opposite. Haiti was suffused with Jesus. Every bus had a Bible verse emblazoned on the side. Every store quotes scripture in its name. Want to go to an internet cafe? In Haiti, it will probably be something like “Give Thanks to God Internet Cafe.”
The intensity of the Haitians’ devotion was all around for anyone to see, and yet, following the earthquake 4 years ago, many American Christian volunteers flocked to convert Haiti.
It’s an interesting spiritual myopia to insist that everyone’s relationship with God needs to look just like yours. That’s like bit like insisting that everyone have the exact same reaction to movies, or music, as you do. You would end up missing so much good stuff out there – so much that’s fascinating – if all you ever heard were the same 12 songs you loved over and over and over.
As Jesus describes the world to come to his followers, he describes it as massive, with so many rooms that everyone could have a place of their own. All bound up together in their relationship to Jesus. But when Thomas panics about not knowing the exact particulars, Jesus reassures him that they each know enough, and for each of them, Jesus provides a way, a life, and a truth broad enough to travel on.
Take time today to listen to someone who disagrees with you, in small ways or big ways. Ask about their story, and listen to what they say, without sharing your story. Just listen.