Just imagine: you are on your way home from work, sitting on the bus. There is this guy sitting next to you. Well, you don’t know whether to pity him or feel contempt. How can you let yourself go like this? I mean, you don’t have to be dressed up to the nines – but a bit more tidiness would be nice. He doesn’t have a briefcase with him. You suspect he is unemployed and living on welfare and whatever else you imagine in your head. We are quick with our assessment and evaluation of other people, aren’t we? Some people on the bus are busy making phone calls or chatting with their neighbor. This guy next to you is just staring out of the window. He seems to be lonely.
Joan Osborne’s song “One of Us” (click here for lyrics) is about such a guy. Many thanks to my fellow blogger colleague djbaroque and his inspiring blog “My 2011 Musical Diary” for reminding me of this wonderful song from 1995. In this song Osborne suggests: “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home”. Can you imagine God as such a slob, sitting next to you in the bus – someone who is lonely, whose contact list on the phone is rather short even if there might be some incoming calls from the Pope – well, that’s something, isn’t it? 😉 : “He’s trying to make his way home, back up to heaven all alone, nobody calling on the phone ‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome.”
This is clearly not in accordance to the traditions of the big world religions, whereas “God is great” would certainly get the approval of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all together. This creed is repeated throughout the song very often as if to fight the doubts. Many people nowadays have their problems with the image of an almighty, omnipresent God.
So – what if God wasn’t like that? What if he was “a slob like one of us”? Could we put up with a God who is not able to intervene, to end our sufferings, to turn the world around? Do we really want God the Almighty if this meant “that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the Saints and all the prophets.”
On the other hand – to have him sit next to us would give us the chance to ask those questions we always wanted to ask him.
What if…we would confine ourselves to seeing God in our fellow human beings? That would give everyone the dignity they deserve, regardless of age, gender, race, looks. The video coming with the song illustrates this idea perfectly well. The whole scenery is somehow surreal – kind of a funfair or kermess, a photo gag with people replacing God’s face: God’s many (human) faces.
I guess if religions would concentrate on seeing God in every human rather than finding “the truth” and fighting each other there would be more peace on earth, more tolerance and respect.
By the way, at the center of Christianity there is a guy who is, well, not a slob, but who was good for a scandal every now and then and who ended up on the cross sentenced as a criminal. Not everybody liked him. God – one of us. Have we really understood what this means? Are we capable of seeing God in the guy on the bus, in our neighbor, in our enemy?
Have you ever considered what YOU would ask God if you had the chance to talk to him?