A recent series by Ken Burns on the national parks highlighted the life of John Muir. Growing up with a father who drove him mercilessly to memorize the Bible and to be perfect, Muir rejected the rigid, judgmental religion of his upbringing. However, when he discovered Yosemite National Park, it was as if all creation was proclaiming the love of a benevolent God. Muir couldn't help himself; he had to experience this environment that was so filled with God's wonder and grace. As he fought to preserve this incredible place, he sometimes quoted that Bible he had been forced to learn.
A later experience took Muir to Southeastern Alaska where a band of Tlingits ferried him by canoe to Glacier Bay and other incredible locations along the coast. As he began to understand their Native American culture, he realized how much his experiences of the Creator's power had also touched the Tlingit tribe. You might say that Muir found that tribe closer to the one true God than his merciless father had been.
What John Muir discovered is not something new, for God's handiwork has been affecting hearts and minds throughout human history.
In the words of the Psalmist, "The heavens declare the glory of God." It does not say they declare God's glory only to a few; the assumption is that it is for everyone. How arrogant it would be for us to assume that God is not already at work in lives quite different from our own.
As a Christian, the message of Jesus Christ is at the center of what I believe. It is where I have been opened to this God of grace and love. In all humility, I think that anyone who has missed out on Jesus has missed the very best.
However, if I truly believe that God is at work in all creation, I should never be surprised to find much to learn from others who do not claim Jesus' name.
It does not mean that I give up my Christian life or stop sharing it. It simply means that I am learning about the work of God in other cultures and expressions of faith.
Such experiences keep me humble and willing to listen.
I trust that Jesus is quite pleased when I adopt that attitude.