Monday, December 21, 2009

Belief: Part 2

There was a time in my life, after I started a relationship with Christ, that I didn’t want to be called a Christian. Because the connotation is so often misguided. And as a matter of fact, the term “relationship with Christ” kind of makes me cringle a little bit. I believe in Jesus. And I do believe that I have a “relationship” with Jesus in the fact that I do spend time seeking His ways, His words, and His truth. But I didn’t want to be called Christian because what I thought it meant. To others, and possibly even to myself.

I think sometimes people use Christian as an adjective that is synonymous with ignorant.
And floozy.
And the kind of person that believes in make believe.
And judgmental.
And hypocritical.
And sitting on a high horse thinking they are better than everyone else.

But it’s so far from the truth.
I try to “follow” Christ’s example. Not in a WWJD kind of way, over popularized and taken for granted in- but in a “Jesus loves the people” kind of way. Less like the movie Saved, and more like the musical Godspell.

Jesus hung out with what the Bible refers to as, “The Least of These”. Meaning the people everyone else in society looks down upon. The people that are judged. The people that no one else would treat as though they have any value. He found value in them, because the truth is, EVERYONE has something valuable to offer.

As Aaron Rose once said, “in the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” And I think this especially goes for people. All people- rich man, poor man, blogger friend you never agree with, CEO, stripper, barista who never gets your order right, Arabian, middle school student, Amish mother of seventeen, grocery clerk, elderly woman going 25 mph in a 55, homeless man with a card-board sign, strict Jewish grandfather, police man, Queen of England, card carrying member of the NRA, pop star with 5 singles on the top 100, environmental activist, former political figures caught in scandals, bully, new neighbors who play weird music late at night, your favorite teacher of all times, man, woman, child; all people. People who are role models and people who we criticize every day. Jesus cared for all people. But especially the people no one else cared for; and I think this is what makes the gospels so relatable- haven’t we all felt, at one point or another, that no one cares for us? Even though we know our families, friends, significant others love us very much- aren’t there times when you feel completely alone and misunderstood and a bit like an outcast?


Jesus fed the hungry. No questions asked. He didn’t inquire about what they were doing to get food on their tables. He didn’t make them fill out a form to prove they were actively searching for employment. He didn’t care if he was being taken advantage of, or he was being “used” for food. He fed the hungry. He didn’t allot them a certain amount of vouchers in exchange for a certain amount of food- he fed until they were satisfied. He didn’t complain about people’s laziness, or not trying hard enough to get a job, or say it was pathetic to beg, or ask for help. If they were hungry, He fed them. He brought satisfaction.

(and He turned water into wine- which is my kind of man. I’m just saying.)

Jesus was also very smart. He wasn’t a floozy. He knew Jewish law just as well as anyone in the church. He understood things that we often don’t understand in today’s society. I once heard a lecture on the sarcasm of Christ. Apparently, a lot of what Jesus says in the Gospels, is actually a way of Jesus making fun of Caesar and religion and people who go around acting like they know it all- we just don’t see it because we aren’t educated on the time; the culture and society of the Biblical days.

I didn’t want to be called a Christian because I didn’t want people to think I was things OTHER than what Christ was. Because I think Christ was pretty awesome. And as cliché as it is, I want to be like Jesus.

I didn’t want to be called a Christian because some people take being called a Christian today as being closed-minded, ultra-conservative, pro-life, homophobic, and think you deserve the world to be handed to you and that everyone else is wrong.

But, the truth is, I am a Christian. And I hope and pray that I am none of the above mentioned traits. But I don’t think that I am more “right” or “better” for being a pro-equal rights activist, liberal woman who would stand up for anyone who was treated unfairly. I don’t think I’m better, or even right, for being pro-choice. I don’t think I’m a better person for, if having the opportunity, voting no on prop 8. And I don’t think I’m better for knowing Christ, following Christ, or LOVING Christ. I don’t think I’m better for any of it.

This is not meant to be preachy. This is not meant to say, “Believe in Jesus!” This is not meant to criticize any political stances or beliefs of anyone else. This is not meant to tell you that you are wrong and I am right- because I honestly don’t believe that. The reasons I believe in Christ have nothing to do with my own righteousness. I don’t want to be a Christian to be “right” all the time. And I don’t want to be a Christian to obey the rules. I want to be a Christian to help people, to fed people, to encourage and support people the way Christ did, and the way He still does- through His recorded words in the Bible, and the community of believers spreading his love each and every day.

I don’t like to be called religious. Because of the connotations. And, truthfully, I am more “religious” about Wisconsin Football than about anything having to do with a church.

I have faith in a lot of things. I have faith in positive thinking, and the building of community. I have faith in people in helping people and the power of prayer. I have faith in going after dreams and following your heart, and even though I don’t always want to believe it, I have faith in true love. I think it must all stem from being an optimist. But all the things I have faith in, are founded in my understanding Christ, and spending time trying to know and be more like Christ over the past six years.

I know how to have faith in myself, because of Jesus.
I know how to have faith in others, because of Jesus.
I know how to have faith in change, and time, and love, and words, and truth, and community, and love- all because of Jesus.

Through my own experiences with Christ in my life; the seeing him in other’s lives and finding it attracting, and the seeking for truth in His words and image and understanding, and the pleading that God is real, that His love is Real, and that Christ’s sacrifice is real- I was seeking Faith. Overtime, I learned how to rely on faith. There came a time when instead of saying “I don’t know if God is real- we will never know.” I began to say, “I don’t know if God is real- but I CHOOSE to believe he is.”

In the beginning, during the searching and seeking and wondering, it was almost as if I had to be secure enough in my self to not care if I was wrong about God, and Christ, and the whole belief thing. I had to trust that my love for Jesus was strong enough that I didn’t care what anyone else said about me for loving Him. And I finally feel I am resting in this truth. I don’t care what unbelievers say about my beliefs, my thoughts, my understanding of Christ. And I (perhaps, finally) don’t care what believers say about my beliefs, my thoughts, and my understanding of Christ. For so long I struggled with trying to understand my place in Jesus, instead of relying on Jesus’s place in me. I finally feel like I can grasp who I am, and where I am on the “path that God has for me” because I know that it’s not something that can be answered in a three paragraph essay. It’s ever-changing, and ever evolving.

The most important thing for me in faith, is to continue to question.
QUESTIONING IS SO IMPORTANT IN FAITH.

I question God daily- and not just, “oh, God! Why did this happen!?” but more like, “when will I understand, You?” and “If you are a Merciful, Loving God, then why do bad things happen to innocent children?” and “Who is right? And who is wrong?” and “how can I do more for those who have less?” and “what’s next?”

I question myself, daily. Am I strong enough to keep going? To keep living here, in a town where I don’t really know anyone but whom I work with. To keep moving forward and not sit in the sadness or depression that so often seems so determined to creep into my life. Can I continue to run, or will I give up? Why am I running? Is for the wrong reasons? Does it even matter? What’s the difference between right and wrong- isn’t it all perspective? Isn’t it all subjective?

I question love, daily. Is it real? Is it something we’ve fabricated over time? Is it something we’ve diluted, and left watered down throughout our societies rein on the word or inflated so much that it’s completely different then what it should be? Will I feel romantic love again? Was I feeling romantic love before? Can love be wrong? Am I deserving of love, and if so, why? Are we all deserving of love? Should love be questioned? Can love be naive? And Should love be naïve?

But the FAITH is the choice I have. To know that no matter what the answers are, there is existence. And power. And substance. And that eventhough I may NEVER understand, the fact that I keep asking, and yet still believe- that’s the core of my Faith, the strengthening of it. Stronger faith in God, stronger faith in goodness, stronger faith in others, and stronger faith in myself. It is worth it to choose faith, even when I would rather be cynical and angry and dark and twisty. It is worth it make the choice, every day, or hour, or minute if I have to- because faith leads to hope; and hope is what powers, what changes, the world.



[to be continued…..]



Do you believe that Faith is a choice or something you either have or don’t have? Do you agree that questioning strengthens faith? What do you choose to believe in?

5 comments:

  1. Can I just say that I think you are brilliant? I totally agree that questioning strengthens faith. I come from a very strict Catholic upbringing, but my parents were always very open to any kind of questioning. In fact, they welcomed it.

    One of the things I always remember my dad saying - and it has stuck with me, is that "you always can go back and always will have a place to go.' He told me that when I was questioning my faith and just being lazy and not wanting to go to church. I have ALWAYS remember that and it's true. You can always go back.

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  2. I am very much enjoying these posts, very informative. I grew up in a Lutheran church but as I got older I decided that I was not a believer and still feel that way to this day. I do very much respect those who have faith and feel that connection but I choose to live my life as someone who is agnostic.

    I was always a questioner about everything and that is how I came to what I believe in, through questions and reflection.

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  3. Wow, what a brilliant post! Many of the questions listed are something I have often thought of myself. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in these thoughts!
    I believe that Faith is something you have to work on. For some, it comes easier, while for others it’s the biggest struggle they will ever have.
    I also believe that questioning definitely strengthens faith. If you don’t question, how will you know more about the truth? How else will you be completely open and honest to God if you don’t ask? Like the old cliché, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
    My Faith in Jesus has definitely improved over the years, but I still struggle (with many of the same questions you have). I am one of those skeptical people who have a hard time believing most things. I also was one of those people who thought Christians were hypocritical, judgmental, etc. However, after learning about Christ and struggling through prayers and Bible studies, I have come to believe in the truth and I’m so thankful that I have done so.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, what a brilliant post! Many of the questions listed are something I have often thought of myself. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in these thoughts!
    I believe that Faith is something you have to work on. For some, it comes easier, while for others it’s the biggest struggle they will ever have.
    I also believe that questioning definitely strengthens faith. If you don’t question, how will you know more about the truth? How else will you be completely open and honest to God if you don’t ask? Like the old cliché, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
    My Faith in Jesus has definitely improved over the years, but I still struggle (with many of the same questions you have). I am one of those skeptical people who have a hard time believing most things. I also was one of those people who thought Christians were hypocritical, judgmental, etc. However, after learning about Christ and struggling through prayers and Bible studies, I have come to believe in the truth and I’m so thankful that I have done so.

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  5. I want to nominate this post for an award. I want to print it out and mass paper some car windshields. I want to scream all of it from a rooftop.

    YES! AMEN! YES!!!!!

    Excellent, EXCELLENT job Heather.

    ReplyDelete

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