Connecting with God
Last updated 4/5/2023 at 10:02am
How do you connect with God? Do you even want to? At Sisters Community Church, (SCC) the first part of the mission statement I shared with you last week is to Connect with God. We believe our commitment to this first step helps us to fulfill the other two steps—Care for People and Cultivate Community.
As a pastor at SCC, and a member of the greater Sisters community, I have enjoyed helping others connect with God. While hearing individual stories, which are many and varied, I'm continually reminded of our need to personally connect with God. I realize that everyone's journey is different.
I'd like to share my own journey with you. Born in 1950, a child of the '60s and '70s, I was destined to be a seeker in an unorthodox kind of way. My parents divorced when I was at a young age, and I was raised by my grandparents. While surrounded by those who loved and watched out for me, I didn't always have boundaries. I was free to roam. Sports became a refuge for me, and playgrounds provided plenty of opportunities to get lost in whatever the ball dictated. Sports became the idol of my heart, and my place of connection — and consecration.
I always wanted more, but didn't know what more looked like. Thanks to athletics—not academics—I was fortunate to get a full scholarship to a New England prep school. I had an English teacher who asked us to bring in our favorite piece of literature. I wasn't quite sure what literature was, so I brought in a Jimi Hendrix song to share. He asked why I liked it, what I saw in it. I don't remember my response, but his changed me. He said, "Good insight! If you continue to be a curious learner you can make a difference in your world." Yikes! I was a curious learner? I could make a difference?
As a curious learner, and realizing there was more to learn, I made attempts to connect. I wanted to reach out, to discover, to find meaning…. But I didn't find the connection I was looking for at Woodstock. I didn't discover it in college. I didn't even find it living in a teepee for four years, moving up and down the beautiful Rockies.
I did discover a longing in my heart for relational beauty, greater purpose, meaning, and contentment. I searched through nature, meditation, and Eastern religious disciplines, but was continually faced with my inability to achieve and arrive. It was at this time I was introduced to Jesus and the Bible by a friend. It was not what I expected. I discovered through the Bible, and other people, the kindness, forgiveness, and sacrifice of a connecting God. I started to read and learn once again. After all my teacher said I was a learner...
I also discovered, thanks to my own humanity, connecting with God can get messy. But it's as much about the journey as the destination. And it comes with lots of questions —about worldview, or ultimate reality. God's answers to these questions shape our purpose, our ethic, our future hope.
Most would agree we are experiencing a crisis in America. We have a political mental health crisis, a social-relational crisis, and — most critically — we have a spiritual crisis. We have lost our soul. We are fragmented from each other, and no matter what side you're on there is a lack of trust. There seems to be no effort to create understanding. We find ourselves in trouble. We may feel disconnected to each other — and to God.
Everyone has a viewpoint regarding life's questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Our worldview attempts to answer these questions in a logically consistent, empirically reliable, and experientially relevant way. If we don't get origin and ultimate reality right, the other answers become a preferential guess. We are left with making it up as we go along.
At SCC we want to bring healing to this spiritual crisis by introducing and connecting people to God. The same God who reaches out to us through Jesus Christ. Some think that Christianity is about performing a truth to appease an angry God. That kind of "religion" can be divisive, legalistic, and based on performance. It creates a slippery slope of judgmentalism and self-righteousness.
Father Richard Rohr said, "Religion is for those who want to stay out of hell. Spirituality is about those who have gone through it."
True spirituality is found in Christ — it is meant to be received not achieved. It connects us to a God who has reached out in sacrificial love. He seeks a connection with us because He has created us as irreducibly relational beings in his image. And he offers us a relationship via his grace, compassion, and forgiveness. It is this truth that connects us to God and each other.
This is our ultimate reality. It is not that we first connected with God, but that he first connected with us in giving us Jesus. At SCC we want to love and help people relationally, so that we might all be better connected to God, and each other.