Reach past faith’s boundaries


How big is God? Let’s see: God is supposed to be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, in all places at once, all powerful and knows everything. Pretty impressive. So why do we make God so small? We do this when we think that ours is the one and only church doing things right. We do this when we think that everyone else is getting it all wrong. Now imagine that God is looking at all the earth and thinking; “Aha! There, right there in Grays Harbor: finally, one church has figured out how to properly worship me and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong!” How small would God be to think like that?

Don’t make God small. God isn’t hung up on our petty dogmatic differences. I think God simply wants to see us coming together, doing good and helping others.

This summer, here on the Harbor, we will have several churches coming together to put on community Bible camps or vacation bible schools. For many years I’ve helped out at the Montesano Community Bible Camp. It is a crazy, busy week, with several churches working together to provide a good experience for more than 100 children. For one week we all play games, have lessons, eat snacks, sing and oh yes, worship together.

Having people from different faiths put aside differences and come together in community is very powerful. Reaching past faith boundaries strengthens us individually and as a community. I often think that the people who benefit most from this experience are not the children but the teens and adults working in each other’s churches, learning that we are just not that different. What would happen if government leaders put aside their differences to work toward the common good of the people?

Think of the story about the Roman centurion asking Jesus to heal his slave. As a Roman, he probably worshipped Apollo, Diana and Jupiter. Jesus didn’t deny him help because he wasn’t baptized or hadn’t kept up his tithe. Jesus didn’t hold up some bar to see who was worthy of his love and help, in fact, he seemed to deliberately seek out people labeled by their culture as unworthy, such as lepers, tax collectors and women.

Perhaps what Jesus saw in the centurion was the person who had reached across faith barriers to build a synagogue for the Jews, a worshipper of Roman Gods who reached out to Jesus for help.

Pope Francis recently preached that atheists who do good can be redeemed. He said that in doing good, believers and atheists can find common ground. God is not small. God isn’t judging us by Pentecostal, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Confucian or Islamist constraints. God is bigger, way bigger than that. I’m going with Pope Francis on this one. Let’s transcend faith boundaries and meet together on the common ground of doing good.

Corby Varness is a lay preacher at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Montesano.