Spirituality, on the other hand, poses a bigger problem. This surrounds the heart - what we hold most dear. For many, there's no wiggle room and disagreement, often, is tantamount to heresy. That's the background I come from. There is "right with God" and "not right with God" and even one's political leanings have serious implications in one's standing in the Christian community and (in the eye's of many), one's standing with God.
So, when it comes to writing about how I feel about these things, I'm a big ol' pansy. A coward. Yellow. Scared to offend. Scared to be wrong. Because we're not talking shoes here, we're talking real life and death.
It's possible, we're also talking a colossal ego! What in the world makes me think life and death hinge on me and my opinions and beliefs. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to what I know about God, my saviour and the sacrifice He made and the gift he gave to me, I'm not confused and there's not much gray area. And either someone believes the same as I on those or they don't. My opinions, changing or no, really aren't going to make anyone believe anything.
But it's not central theology that we believers disagree on (most of the time). For me, what I stated above is central theology. God in the flesh, loving us who have turned on Him and tried to become our own God, sacrificing Himself for us, so that we could "get" how much He loves us. NOT because we are worthy or deserving or have earned it; but because of who and what HE is. That, to me, is central theology. The rest are beliefs, opinions, sincere thoughts about scripture, convictions, but in my mind, it's not the base on which everything rests.
So having said all that, I'm going to make a conscious effort to be more brave. Brave about what I think. What I feel. Brave enough to let my comfort zones be challenged. Courage to look into the face of dissension and love the dissenter and even learn from him/her. Courage to love my brothers and sisters in Christ enough to trust the Holy Spirit to show us ALL what is right, true, good, holy and virtuous. And courage enough to be wrong. Or even be right. Or be neither but just be me.
In taking this first ice breaking with myself step, I'm going out on a limb with some things that I believe and while, for most, this limb trip is uneventful; for me, a pleaser and "avoid confrontation at all costs" is a huge big deal.
- After holding to the ban on gay marriage ideal for so many years, I no longer feel strongly about that. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, if two homosexuals want to commit to each other in marriage, I don't think that they should be legally deterred. I think our Christian community's stronghold on this has been a "can't see the forest for the trees" issue.
- I don't believe being "Christian" is synonymous with being American or vice versa. In other words, there seems to be way too much emphasis on us being called a Christian nation. We're not a Christian nation. We are a nation with people of many faiths. And while traditional Christian principles were applied in writing our constitution, we haven't always practiced those.
- It doesn't matter to me if prayer is allowed in schools, if "In God we trust" is on our money, or if the Ten Commandments are on the local courthouse wall. It's not about the show, it's about the heart. "In God we trust" written on our money doesn't earn us brownie points with God and if we really DON'T trust in God, then stamping it on our money is worth less than the paper which carries it's imprint. On a side note, it's ironic that we put this on our money, which is often the one thing we actually trust more than God (more on that later).
- I don't like the term "Christian". It's used only 3 times in the Bible and only once was it used by someone who actually was a believer (1Peter 4:16). I feel like it has become a marketing term at best or a role at worst (more on this later, too). To sum it up, I'm a believer. I'm a child of God. Not because I've kept any rules or that there is more good than bad in me (I don't even think I can claim that!), but because of who GOD is and what He's done for me through Jesus.
- I think sincere brothers and sisters in Christ can disagree HUGELY on a wide range of issues.
- Every believer is my brother or sister in Christ.
- I actually believe what Paul said, "The greatest of these is love".
- I think it's really hard not to judge, no matter how hard we try. But I also believe it's one of the most hurtful things we can do to each other.
Well, this is enough for now. I NEED TO DO THIS. I need to write these things down. I need to take a chance on being wrong. And most of all, I need to use the gift of communicating, that God has given to me. THIS is the parable that keeps playing over in my mind.
13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:13-30). (emphasis mine)
I see myself in these lines in bold. I've been afraid. I've seen God as a "hard man". I've been afraid to offend. I've been concerned about the opinions of others. And so often, I've hidden my talent to "keep it safe" for God. Being human is risky. Blogging about things near and dear to the heart is risky. There's risks and traps everywhere in this world. Some may not like us. Heck, some may hate us for any number of reasons.
But the one place that is risk free is being tucked inside God's love for me.