On religion: Divine visions and human reality


Oluf Kongshaug - Contributing columnist



We are all part of the human parade through history, this continuum of life that began many years ago with our ancestors. Men and women have put their mark on history and brought us to where we are today.

The prophet Abraham was one of those. He was given a promise and a divine vision. God told him that he was to be the father of many nations.

From Abraham’s life, we got the seeds of the three peoples who now live in our midst as Jews, Muslims and Christians. We are all part of the Abrahamic promise and God’s vision, and we, in the Christian church, find ourselves to be one of the three faiths emerging from God’s vision given to Abraham: the Hebrew world, the Muslim world and the Christian world.

But the Divine promise and vision have faced the reality of our earthly life and it has caused a dilemma. The three peoples that God ordained to lead humanity have made a mess out of the promise. Division and self-righteous attitudes have brought the world to a serious turning point. As Christians, we live for the fulfillment of God’s promises for us without much thought for whether others are getting their promises fulfilled.

Question: How can we become the answer to the prayers of a world that longs for the fulfillment of the Divine visions given?

One of the Scriptures being used in churches this weekend is Luke 14:7-14 and the theme is humility. The passage describes how Jesus is trying to teach some elders how to work humility into their lives. The prophet Micah actually tells us in his book that what God really wants from us is justice, kindness and humility. Does humility have something to do with where we go next in the effort to bring all the peoples of the world together?

A contemporary clergyman said something that we might listen to. He said, “Faith must be lived before it is understood, and the more it is lived, the more things become possible.”

The reality is that we serve a God for whom turning water into wine was small potatoes; who healed people who reached out and touched him; who thought nothing of stilling a storm; who called a dead man, Lazarus, back to life; and then when he was put to death himself, he refused to stay dead. Awesome!

And when it comes down to it, he is the God of Abraham.

Being that is he not also the Allah of the Muslims, the Yahweh of the Israelis and our triune God, creator, savior and holy spirit, the God of the Christian faith!

How do we combine the Divine Vision with our human reality? The answer is: We don’t, but God will. It is not our job to save the world; we have a Savior for that.

It is not our job to sell our Savior to the Jews or Muslims; they know God their own way.

We are not sent to make a sale, but to make an offer. We are sent to offer ourselves as brothers and sisters in faith and with humility accept that our Lord may have things in mind that we cannot ever begin to understand. We are sent as salt of the earth — sent to reflect the light that will conquer the darkness of the world.

The only thing we have to do is to obey the call to love our neighbor. That is a call we find in the Scriptures of all our faiths and something we all have in common. God bless you!

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Oluf Kongshaug

Contributing columnist

The Rev. Oluf Kongshaug is a retired Presbyterian minister. In retirement, he has served as interim pastor for several area churches.

The Rev. Oluf Kongshaug is a retired Presbyterian minister. In retirement, he has served as interim pastor for several area churches.