Were Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, Mayans and Babylonians, African and Asian civilizations, and the endless Native peoples on all continents and isolated islands for millennia just throwaways or dress rehearsals for “us”? Is God really that ineffective, boring, and stingy?
Remember, light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else. This is why in John’s Gospel, Jesus Christ makes the almost boastful statement “I am the Light of the world” (John 8: 12). Jesus Christ is the amalgam of matter and spirit put together in one place, so we ourselves can put it together in all places, and enjoy things in their fullness.
In fact, the more you make your thoughts (beliefs) into your identity, the more cut off you are from the spiritual dimension within yourself. Many “religious” people are stuck at that level. They equate truth with thought, and as they are completely identified with thought (their mind), they claim to be in sole possession of the truth in an unconscious attempt to protect their identity.
The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the center.
The gospel means that every small story is part of a sweeping story, every ordinary life part of an extraordinary movement. God is busy making all things new, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it.
Wisdom, it seems, is situational. It isn’t just about knowing what to say; it’s about knowing when to say it. And it’s not just about knowing what is true; it’s about knowing when it’s true.
If I’ve learned anything from thirty-five years of doubt and belief, it’s that faith is not passive intellectual assent to a set of propositions. It’s a rough-and-tumble, no-holds-barred, all-night-long struggle, and sometimes you have to demand your blessing rather than wait around for it.