Earlier in the week, my wife and I took a trip to St Mungos Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow. It was chock full of religious imagery, artefacts and ritualistic objects from all kinds of faiths and from all over the world. They ranged from the painting above (“Crucifixion” by Peter Howson – 2010) and similar images depicting familiar views of Christianity to a bronze statue of the Hindu deity Shiva,
a painting of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak
and a depiction of the holiest site in Islam, the Ka’aba in Mecca.
The museum was a very still, quiet and moving place, full of the reverence which each of these and many more artefacts bring with them. They served as a reminder of the search that the human race has had for a higher power ever since we first climbed out of the trees (*dons tin helmet at the mention of evolution*).
Many of these religions and faiths grew totally independently of each other throughout the world. Some no longer exist, such as the ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, while others, like Islam and Christianity, continue to grow and thrive. All, however, centre around an innate need within all of us to find meaning in our existence; some kind of order, purpose and aim in life. The fact that so many civilisations have focused on this idea of a god or gods speaks volumes to me. Where did the idea come from? Why the concept of a god or a group of deities? I could understand this being a purely human construct if it all came from one origin, but it appears that people have worshipped a god of some sort in every part of the world without any outside influence. It is a natural, divine urge to connect with the higher power who created the heavens and the earth.
I’m a Christian, so central to my belief is this one verse from John’s Gospel,
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6 NIVUK)
I believe that Jesus is the way to God. However, the fact is that billions around the world, both today and through the ages, have sought and are seeking God. I feel that this need to connect with God is the most powerful thing a person can experience and that, however we chose to do so, we must learn about and from other faiths and learn to respect and understand their beliefs. Our aim is the same, after all, to know and grow close to our creator. The one who made and knows each of us and left a desire to know him buried in our very being.