I met some of my Christian friends about 6 years ago, and my meeting with them was a milestone in my spiritual journey. In their language, I understood how one becomes a good Christian and how one lives the teachings of Jesus Christ. I deeply appreciate their presence and effort in creating a community of believers and I saw this in how they relate to each other and how they develop themselves into becoming faithful followers of Christ. In the course of my encounter with them, there was a bugging question in my mind: if every one of us accepts and be saved by Christ, what will happen to people of other faiths? How would Christ save them? What can I do about it? These were questions of theological and philosophical proportions, and might trigger unwanted interfaith arguments. I did not seek any argument nor I sought for right answers. Nonetheless, an insightful answer dawned on me. It later revealed itself as Agape, even though I have explored it in the word Love.
Brother Wayne’s Insights
A group of amateur filmmakers traveled the world and interviewed some great spiritual luminaries and religious leaders in wonderful documentary entitled One. It was a kind of interfaith documentary wherein these leaders answered some of the big questions about God and Life. I heard for the first time the late Catholic Monk and Christian mystic Brother Wayne Teasdale in his interview responding about the teaching of Jesus. This part of the film was carefully sequenced with an interview of an Evangelical Christian Radio host Bob Dutko, who also shared his thoughts about the same topic. They have different perspectives. Dutko remained vehement over the absolute and exclusive paradigm of Christian belief. But Brother Wayne Teasdale had a very illuminating thought over the inclusive nature of the teachings of Christ.
“If God is infinite Love in itself and Jesus is the incarnation of that Love, he has come to reveal the essence of that Love through his actions more than his words. That by being Loving in that way, in that selfless way, that is leading to the mystery of the Father who is infinite Love itself. To the extent that he is teaching that, illustrating that. He is the truth of that reality. And to the extent that he embodies that, that is the way of Life. If a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, a Moslem, an animist, an atheist achieves that level of Love in their lives, not only that they know God, they know Christ – because Christ and God are of that Love!” Teasdale amazingly encapsulated what I had been pondering over a long time ago. Love or Agape never identifies any boundaries of religions. Through Christ teachings of Love, we are all capable of reaching out and including every human being in the planet, regardless of their faith and form of God.
Love is the way, the truth and the life.
Way, Truth and Life
In a church near my former university, there is a huge sentence carved in wall of the altar. It says: Ego sum via, veritas et vita. I am the way, the truth and the life. Based on John 14:6, it tells how Jesus answered clueless Thomas asking how to follow him. I would consider this answer as one of the most mind-boggling and misunderstood Christian riddle I have ever read. I have heard quite a number of Christian faithfuls who refer to this saying as an almost absolute persuasion. I agree with them, to say that Jesus Christ is a way to God. But, in many cases, it is easy to justify that Christ is the one and only way, as if it becomes a fitting tool to exclude others who believe in a different way. Sadly, the essence of Love in this very teaching was obscured.
This famous saying of Christ never left me. In fact, in my explorations of Love, it transformed itself into 3 principles of the Path to Agape. Love is the way, the truth and the life. This is a fairly reasonable rendition. In I John 4:8, we can find a powerful phrase: God is Love. If Jesus Christ is an incarnation of God, then he is an embodiment of Love, a human being who lives the essence of Love. It seems so supernatural to understand this, given the fact that humanity is sinful and unworthy. Yet deep in my bones, I am very sure that Jesus wants to tell us a wisdom beyond the words he had said, only if we can read between the lines.
How can we live the Love that Christ taught us? I am the way: we can find God by finding Love in each of us, and then finding it in others and in every God’s creation. I am the truth: we can know God’s truth by committing ourselves to this truth of Love, that everyone of us can radiate and express Love. I am the life: we can become God by living Love in our own unique and Loving ways. The Path to Agape is so simple: it is all about living Love in our minds, hearts and souls. As we achieve this, we can equally Love our fellow human beings with the way we Love ourselves. By doing this, we rediscover this Agape, or Unconditional Love as our deepest human nature, beyond the differences of religions, even those differences within Christianity.
It is always a miracle of Love to meet people of different faiths and to be friends with them, like those I encountered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month. And I always remember, in the presence of these people, Christians or non-Christians, the Love that each human being seeks, and I keep on seeing it in each person I meet. The true Path to Agape Jesus taught us has no walls of separation, but instead bridges of connection. It does not matter what we believe in the surface, for in following and sharing the truth of Love, we allow our unique and varied ways of understanding Love, and in the end we always experience and share it together.
Next: On Finding God