This morning, after finishing a Spanish test early, I was walking around campus somewhat bored but on a mission to get Starbucks (because coffee). I got stopped by this very friendly lady who was standing next to a girl who I assume was her daughter. She said, “Excuse me- do you know God the mother?”
“What?” I, of course, immediately replied. I was sure I misheard her.
She then told me she was doing a project, which I assumed was for a class since we were on a college campus, and was wondering if she could talk to me for a moment. I told her that of course she could. She asked if I was a Christian, which I quickly said I was and, now thinking she might be doing evangelism (and selfishly really wanting my coffee), I told her that I didn’t want to waste her time. As I started to walk away she said “no, no” and motioned me back. “Ok”, I thought, “This will be a nice conversation at least”. She asked if I believed in the bible and I said that of course I did. She then asked me again, “Have you heard of God the mother- it’s in the bible?”
Still thinking I misheard her and quickly becoming very confused, I asked her to repeat herself about five times. When I was sure of what she asked, I stood with a blank look on my face trying to figure out the implications of what she could possibly mean. I know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit- the trinity, three in one. Surely, I thought, she must mean God the Father. Maybe she was taking a more “gender neutral” stance on religion? Maybe she was doing a project to see how easy it would be to get someone to believe something? I was curious to see what she was talking about and how she intended this conversation to go.
As all this was going through my mind, I neglected to actually answer her question. So, she asked again and (thankfully) clarified what she meant. “Many people know God the Father but there is also God the mother.” she said, very enthusiastically. At this I stopped. I asked her what denomination she was, and she told me non-denominational. “It’s in the bible!” she kept saying, “Many people go to church every Sunday but don’t know about God the mother.” So, I decided to let her do her spiel out of great curiosity of what she meant. I was hoping she didn’t mean what I thought she meant. She did.
I later looked up everything she told me to find out what her exact religion was and discovered that it all fit with something called The World Mission Society Church of God, a Korean religious movement that started in 1964. So, it is a bit different from mainstream Christianity and does not agree with much of what Christianity teaches.
She opened her bible, asking if I have one and if I’ve read it. At this point I’m feeling a little guilty for not having my bible with me. I’m also feeling guilty because I’m still working on reading the entire bible straight-through. Because of both of these, I’m feeling very unprepared for what I know is about to occur, so as she finds the verse she wants to show me I pray a quick prayer that I try to pray quite often- God, give me the words to say and the wisdom to know how to react. By this point, I knew that I would need something to say.
The first verse she showed me:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17
She asked me who the bride was and I replied with the church. She told me this was wrong, but I know it’s what the bible tells us:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27
She tried to say that it had more than one meaning, like how the temple can refer to Jesus’ body as well as a physical temple. She asked me what the water of life was in the Revelation passage and I replied with the Holy Spirit and, basically, eternal life. She agreed with the eternal life aspect of that, and turned to another verse of the woman at the well:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
She said that it doesn’t make sense that the bride in the Revelation passage could mean the church, because we cannot give others eternal life. That’s very true- we as people cannot give anyone eternal life. Here’s the thing, though, and I wish I had thought to say this to the lady I was talking to: we are not alone. That passage says “the Spirit and the bride” and the key is the Spirit.
She turned to another verse in Revelation
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:9-10
and she paired it with a verse in Galatians.
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. Galatians 4:26
At these, she eagerly told me that Jerusalem is the bride- and that’s true because Jerusalem in these verses is referring to the church as well. What I don’t agree with was her then saying that this meant Jerusalem was God the mother. She’s getting this from the Galatians verse, which, while a clever way to present this, is misguided. When taken literally, that thought process she demonstrated makes sense, but Galatians 4:26 is very figurative and is talking about the church. These verses are all being drastically taken out of context.
After showing me these verses, our conversation quickly ended to my dismay.
When I told her that I didn’t see what she was seeing in this verses, she told me that how I was reading them was “adding to the bible”. While I told her that I was not and I was very curious to see where else she saw this connection she replied with, “All 66 books of the bible prophesy this.” After telling her that I myself have read much of the bible and have failed to see this but would love for her to show me more, she told me again that it was there. This time, though, she said something that really bothered me. She said that salvation depended on it.
Now, if there’s one thing I’m confident in when it comes to my faith, it’s that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The bible makes this very clear. It’s not a secret; it doesn’t try to hide it.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
“then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household.” Acts 16:31
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10
So, immediately after she said that my salvation depended on it I said very pointedly that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone.
At this, she glanced at her daughter and prepared to go. I asked her to show me more. I said that I always love having spiritual conversations and was happy to hear more of what she had to say. She told me that if I wasn’t going to believe in what the bible says there wasn’t a point. I again told her that I do believe in what the bible says and have a close relationship with God, but she simply told me to have a nice day and walked away.
I wish that I could’ve said something to convince her to stay longer. I wish that I would’ve had more educated responses in the moment to the verses she showed me. I wish I was a more articulate person. More than anything, though, I hope that something I said stood out to her and helps her learn more about who God is. I know that God was helping me through this encounter.
I learned that I really need to make sure I have something to say in these situations. I need to become much more prepared for spiritual conversations- especially with those who disagree with me. After several hours, my thoughts cleared up a bit and I felt like I finally had something to say, which made me feel compelled to write this post. Next time I just hope it doesn’t take me quite as long.