I’ve come to realize I can be honest to myself, I can embrace my true self fully, I can embrace my humanity completely, because that is what Jesus did when he walked the earth, and that is why he was able to love, and to live, as he did. That is why, though he was fully human, by truly embracing his humanity he also exemplified a divine way of living.
The experiences you have in life, including the challenges you have, the sufferings you experience, the answered and unanswered prayers that you pray, the riches or poverty that is around you or a part of you, the emotional roller coaster within you, and everything else you experience is an important part of how you come closer to God.
The more honest you can be to yourself and your experiences, the more honest you will be with God. In my opinion, to deny your own experiences in life is to create both a fantasy version of yourself, and, in turn, also a fantasy version of God. One who does only the things you dictate he does, and who never does the things you dictate that he never does. In this situation, life experiences are not needed, for everything about God runs exactly according to the script anyway.
When preachers say, “don’t let your experiences tell you who God is, let the Bible tell you” what I think they mean, though I don’t believe they consciously know it, is “Don’t let your experiences tell you who God is, let me, your mediator to God, tell you, based on my interpretation of the Bible, and nothing else.”
To do this, that is, to believe another person’s interpretation of the Bible and reject your own life experience, is to enter into a realm of fantasy and mask-wearing.
I’ve come to believe that my life experiences are very important to understanding God in as honest a way as I can. I still seek understanding through Scripture, but I don’t let any dogma or doctrine determine how to interpret Scripture if it requires me to act like my experiences never existed.
I believe being honest to our surroundings, the world, our own life experiences is essential in gaining a clearer, more honest understanding of our God, who is above all in glory, but also in the dirt, disappointment and distress of life too.
I’m fully human, and so are you. That’s good news, for in the embrace of our humanity, it is there, at our humanity’s very core, that we also discover our divinity; it is there that we can truly embrace the reality that we are one with God. It is there, we can be set free.
An excerpt from my forthcoming book (out Aug 26): An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel.
(Also, when you join my mailing list you get a free audio book. Details at the top of the sidebar)