Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” – John 14
If I had to invent a religion, I’d start with the idea that there is a reason behind the vast cosmos, something that offers not only explanation, but meaning. Then I’d need to believe that the Cause and the Meaning had something invested in this particular corner of creation, the fate of planet Earth, and its inhabitants. But that wouldn’t be enough, and so the religion I invented would imagine that this supreme and absolute power is actually interested in human beings as individuals, and in me in particular, to the extent that actual relationship is possible.
IMPASS: I’d want all that in a religion, but then I’d be stuck because I wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around the mechanics of making the relationship part work. I’d want it, I’d even yearn for it, but I wouldn’t know how to engineer a viable interface; so I’d be left on a mountain somewhere, looking toward “the heavens,” yearning for more.
This is where I am thankful that my faith as a Follower of Jesus moves so far beyond the limits of my mundane constructions. Because God, in an act of love that takes my yearnings, my ideas, my wants, and my needs, and raises them to the level of The Creator’s imaginative purpose, sent Jesus to be that exact point of connection. Not just, “I stand at the door and knock;” but also, “I am the door.”
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” – Rev 3:20
“So he explained it to them: ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.'” – John 10:7
REACHING IN: And then, in a move of remarkable imagination and compassion, God sent the Holy Spirit to stand alongside us, to encourage, to facilitate, to nudge, to counsel, to add the power of God’s intentional presence to each and every moment.
If inventing a religion had been left to me, my best effort would likely culminate in a symbol of some kind to carry around, a talisman of sorts to help me remember the idea of Cause and Meaning, and to represent my desire to connect to the eternal in some meaningful way. But The Creator, breaking in to time and space via the person of Jesus, has – remarkably – given this gift of God’s actual self, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, not merely religion any more but the substance of relationship – exactly what we all long for and need.
- My inventing a religion to reach toward Cause and Meaning would represent the idea of “natural theology,” the inference of God from what we know in creation;
- God reaching for me (and for you) is called “The Gospel of Love,” Jesus breaking in to time and space to be The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
In love, and because of Jesus – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.