There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It Is Finished...For Real

One of my son’s friends is an atheist.  He makes it very clear that he has no interest in talking about God and I respect that.  I don’t fear for his soul, I don’t feel the need to evangelize, to share the Gospel message or otherwise try to convert him to my belief system.  And yet I call myself a Christian.

Can I, as a Christian, believe that there are other paths to God? Or other worldviews?  As a Christian I have been taught the terrors of Hell.  Christianity professes that Jesus Christ is the only path to God and Heaven. So if I am a Christian, and I accept the tenets of the Christian faith, shouldn’t at least part of my life’s purpose be to bring this boy over from the dark side?

And yet, I don’t do it.  So that either makes me cold and heartless, caring little for the fact that this person is going to spend eternity in Hell, or I simply don’t believe he is going to Hell because he has a different opinion than me about God.

I respect other opinions.  Not only do I respect them, I have done enough reading, questioning, doubting of my own that I can even appreciate how someone arrives at their conclusion that there either is no God, or at least that there are many paths to God.  So again I ask the question…am I a Christian?

Can I pick and choose which parts of the Christian faith to believe in and still call myself a Christian?  Can I believe that Jesus was God and died on the cross claiming that through His death we receive life and yet not believe that unbelievers will end up in the fiery pit?

I cringe at the words saved and unsaved, believers and non-believers.  To me, these terms create division, not harmony.  Exclusion as opposed to inclusion.  Jesus himself created much trouble among the religious leaders of his day by including the excluded. 

As I read my Bible, I don’t see a panicked Jesus, desperately trying to save souls.  If Jesus is God, and knew of this terrible place called Hell, why would it be good enough for Him to only reach those who had ears to hear?  To me, it seems as if he’s perfectly happy to move on from people who don’t wish to hear His message, understanding that not everyone will get it.

So that makes Him either as cold and heartless as me with my lack of evangelizing or He simply didn’t worry because He knew that His work on the cross would save everyone, regardless of whether they heard or understood or even accepted or denied His message. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tell Me Why

I have vivid memories of my childhood.  One of them being that I had a natural curiosity about everything in the world.  I would drive my parents crazy with my why questions...why is the sky blue? Why do the leaves change colors?  Why do bees sting?   To the point where my father finally bought me a series of children’s books called Tell Me Why.

I spent hours reading them.  I found the answers to all my questions and many that I didn’t know to ask yet.  And as an adult I find I am no different.  I still ask the why questions.  Partly because I still have a natural curiosity about things, but mostly because things have to make sense to me.

Throughout this past year and for much of my adult life I have thought long and hard about my faith, about God, about my life and it’s meaning and purpose.  I have grown up attending Christian churches so I have been influenced by the Christian faith. 

I have tried desperately to fit into this community.  I sent my kids to a Christian high school, attended numerous bible studies and many churches, all in an effort to understand the Christian faith, the Christian God. 

I generally assumed that because I struggled with so much of what I was taught that that meant my faith was weak.  I was frustrated when I would ask questions about things that didn’t make sense to me and heard the response “some things are just a mystery, they can’t be explained.”

I have tried to accept that response, tried to “let go and let God”.   Tried to ignore the nagging questions and doubts, but I simply can’t do it anymore.  There are so many things about this Christian belief system that simply don’t make sense to me.  The inconsistencies in the bible, the miracle stories, the fact that God would send his Son to be brutally tortured and murdered on the cross and I’m supposed to accept that as a sign of God’s love for us.  Really?

So I wonder…why do I feel the need to believe things that don’t make sense to me?  Why do I try so desperately to be a good, faithful, and devout Christian when so much of it seems to go against my own worldview?

My relationship with God is defined by my questions so I will continue to ask them until I find the answers that make sense. Because perhaps it’s not a lack of faith that causes me such anxst, perhaps it’s that I’m walking in a direction I was never intended to go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ok God...You Win

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.  – John 14:27

There’s a cartoon I think of from time to time because it reminds me of my relationship with God…

A man is driving around a very crowded parking lot looking for an open space.  He cries out to God, “God, if  you help me find a space I will commit my life to you.”  Just then a parking spot becomes available to the man.  As he pulls into the spot he says “never mind God, I got it”.

How often do I cry out to God when I need something, then walk away from Him when I think I’ve got it covered, when I think I’m all set?

I was reading over my past blogs today.  And what struck me was how much progress I seemed to have been making during the Lent season when my focus was on God.  Then as soon as Easter came and went so did my focus on Him.  And I find I am struggling with some old issues, some old weaknesses and temptations.

It’s funny how I resist devoting my life to God for good.  I resist the idea that I need God, that I should humble myself to this unseen power because He is in control.  I can do it for a time, for a season, but once things get back on track…”thanks God, I’ll take over from here.”

Why do I view it as a weakness to admit that I need God in my life? 

Somehow, it’s ok to need a drink, or need caffeine, or need chocolate.  But to need God?  No, it’s much easier to blame God for the fact that I need a drink, caffeine and chocolate. In fact, it’s much easier to blame God for just about everything that I’m unhappy about. 

But the truth is I do need God.  My life looks different when I put Him first.  It’s just that it’s hard to remember to put Him first.  It’s hard to live a life that honors God when I have my own agenda.  It’s hard to say “thy will be done” rather than “my will be done.”

But I’m convinced it is the only path to peace…not necessarily happiness, which is temporary and fleeting, but peace.  Long and lasting peace.