To A Fellow Traveler
When you got on my bus in Antigua yesterday, I didn’t know if you were American or European. You chose the seat next to me, and we began a conversation that continued all the way back to Guatemala City.
There was a world of difference on that bus seat. You, a college graduate from southern California. I, a Mennonite farm boy from Virginia. You, in Guatemala for eighteen months working with the Peace Corps. I, in Guatemala for fifteen years, serving as a missionary. You didn’t know where home was right now. Guatemala, you guessed.
You told me about your work in the Peace Corps; ecotourism and teaching. I told you my vision for an indigenous church.
You said that we were the first organization that you’ve met in Guatemala that really understood sustainability.
We were fast approaching Guatemala City, and I asked you, “Tell me, what’s your personal belief about God, and about Jesus?” You said that you believed that Jesus existed, but not God. You grew up a Unitarian Universalist. Your mother would not mention God in prayer, but say, “May the ‘Force’ give us life.”
You said that the “Force” was like the energy of the Big Bang, not intelligent. You said that Jesus was a good teacher, and that you liked His parables. I said that Jesus must have either been crazy for claiming divinity, or else completely trustworthy. You said you didn’t understand religion very well, and should take some classes on it. I said that you should read the Bible and let it speak for itself.
And then I had to get off. I wished the ride could have lasted longer, because I was just getting to the good part. There are things I would have loved to tell you, a southern California graduate who may have never heard them before.
First, you’re right. There is a Force in the universe, immeasurably greater than anything you can imagine; a living, thinking Force, much stronger than a big bang and much wiser than modern science. Have you, science student, never been amazed by the complexity of a human cell, enthralled by the miracle of continued life, and awed at the vast order of space? It didn’t happen, it was planned. So were you.
You said that you try to return good for evil, but where did your sense of fairness and mercy come from? You work to make the world a better place, but where did your concept of a higher possibility come from? Evolution cannot claim that. Justice and mercy and love are not animal characteristics, and evolution could never produce them. You were made in the image of God, and traces of His person still reside in you.
This explosively powerful God built a universe upon the foundation of his own being. Into it, he built laws of nature upon which science itself depends. These laws are violated only at the expense of failure.
Ever wonder why some things work and some things fail in society? It’s because God has built the principles of his own nature into the very code of the universe. Moral law is an extension of God’s own nature, and to break it is to violate the very living Force that sustains the world.
Friend, there is absolute truth. There is sin and consequence, and you see it every day without recognizing it. There is divine intelligence, so personal that it knows you, so fair that it holds you accountable, and so loving that it yearns to set you at one with Himself.
In a perfect example of the love and mercy that you strive for, this “Force,” as you know Him, pulled aside the curtain of His own creation and stepped inside as a man. This was Jesus. To seek God outside of Jesus is like trying to escape a concrete prison while ignoring the open door.
You chart a spiritual journey of your own making. But as a product of evolution, what spirituality can you claim? You work to change the world, but into what? I would love to share with you the stories of those reconciled with the lawgiver, like the drunk that once terrorized his family, now a gentle father. The extortioner who confessed his wrongdoing and now lives an honest life. These are examples of “inner change” that change the world.
You and I are separated by one ideological difference: God exists, and has chosen to reveal Himself. If there is no God, and no revelation of Himself, a spiritual journey is but a wandering in the dark.
When I got off the bus, I prayed that God would set His mark on you, and would for the rest of your life nudge you toward His truth. That one day your “Force” would be your Father, and Jesus would be your friend.
Nice meeting you,