Before concluding this series, lets pause briefly to remember two things about the “conversation” in which we are involved.
If we learn anything from the Christian scriptures, it is that two categories of people will play particularly important roles in the conversation. They are:
1. Those who are experiencing an absence of God; and
2. Those who are marginalized within society.
For examples of the first, we need look no further than the Psalms, where lament after lament is offered up, not because God is present and known, but because he is (seemingly, at least) absent. They beg the question: Why is God absent?
For examples of the second, we look to the teachings of Jesus, who explicitly taught us that when we come to know those who are in need, in prison, or who are ill, we come to know him.
Why are these people an important part of the conversation? I don’t know all of the reasons, but I am fairly sure that one reason is that they keep us from over-simplification and complacency.
God cares about the marginalized. Likewise, the marginalized are, somewhat ironically, the ones most likely to feel an absence of God. Unless we hear the cries, tears, and concerns of the poor, the oppressed, and the sick, we are unlikely to get a clear picture of God himself. We are unlikely to ask the hard questions that are asked by the Psalmists.
If you find that your spiritual conversations tend to be shallow and unsatisfying, one reason may be because you simply aren’t letting all of the right people into that conversation. Your network, so to speak, has become “closed off” to those particular voices.