Can you dig it?
This blog has been pretty cool so far. For me at least. And I like sharing and having a place to write it out. But there has been one thing I have been sort of stuck on. And that is how to write about my faith. How to write about being Christian. I have been sort of reluctant and cautious. I don’t want to alienate myself or anyone who may read this. And more importantly I don’t want to be made out to be “one of them”. You know the holy rollers, the bible-belters and Christian zealots. If I was painted with that brush I feel that it might discourage you from truly seeing me.
So what am I. In terms of faith I am a Christian. I believe in Christ and I believe in his divinity. I believe in God. And I have committed to my faith in my life. I have been baptized and made a pledge in my heart and soul to follow scripture, to pray and to share my faith. And most of I am calmed and led to a better life by that faith. In it I find strength and peace and I grow. Little by little, an inch an hour, two feet a day. Progress is made.
What I am not is religious. Mostly I say that in a semantic kind of way. When you start talking about religion you start drawing lines and making boxes. And when you do that you immediately lose. Because faith is about love and love should never have boundaries. Religion is about labels and restrictions. And man I just am not built to be labeled and contained.
There a few beliefs I have that may even contradict or annoy other Christians. I believe that it’s all well and good to sit at a dinner table or stand on a corner preaching and scrambling for the Lord. Evangelic television and salvation tents are all well and good. But to truly send a message, to truly lead someone to Christ you have to live it. A mission is more about how I act and how I live, leading by example, than anything to do with what I say. Meaning I can sell you all day on what a great car a Hyundai is in a dealership parking lot, but if you see me driving out in a Ford. Well you are going to wonder about my message right away. Why if it is so great am I not driving God off the lot if I claim to have such regard and faith for him.
Also I believe that if you’re sitting high and happy in your nice white suburbanite home and you go to church on Sunday. You mail off your donation to them poor brown people in some place you’ll never go and you drop a dollar in the Sally Anne kettle come Christmas time. And you try hard not to mislead your kids or cheat on your wife. Well that’s all and good. But faith is about action, real action. And if your complacent and easy life doesn’t include real work in the name of Christ, then you’re not really getting it. You may not be damned for all time. And in fact you may be welcomed with wide open arms when it comes time to “settle the old account” in heaven. But shouldn’t faith mean more? Shouldn’t I get more satisfaction from it? This is a scary prospect for many because it means actually doing. Actually getting out of the comfort of a great big comfortable chair and asking “God what can I do in your name?” And God may just tell you. And it may just be something that really tests you and tests your faith. But that is what being Christian is to me. Reaching, always reaching.
Another thing that sort of digs me the wrong way and I don’t want to be written into. Is the faithful who will get on a plane and travel 25 hours to get to some country where people live in mud huts and have no running water. But not traveling 25 minutes to the poor part of their own town to put a hand in another empty hand right here at home. Sure the third world needs all the help it can get. But going there for a photo-op and a week-long mission so you have a great story for your next BBQ falls short. And a self-induced sense of satisfaction. It just don’t cut it. Not when you get in your hermetically sealed car with its air conditioning and butt massage and drive by the same need in your very own backyard. Those “icky people” who hang out at the bus station or who look like they might steal your stuff. Who are probably smelly and want to talk to you. Well they need your love too. Just as much and maybe more than the people you just flew to see. And it may not be as simple and as glamorous as perhaps some UNICEF camp in Africa. It is what Jesus told us to do. To reach for our neighbour, all our neighbours. No matter how it may seem a dingy task. That hand you extend may in turn end up reaching out too somewhere down the road. And when it does it may just grasp a hand that changes the world. I have lived amongst the rabble and I can tell from my experience, the help is needed, badly. If you claim faith then you cannot turn from these needs. It is a sin. And a real shame.
And finally. I am and probably will never be one of them that hurl Bible quotes and passage numbers at you. Notice I haven’t quoted a single thing here. It’s because I get a distinct feeling that a majority of them that do hurl the bible bits are simply doing so to qualify themselves in some arrogant way. A sort of “look at me and my knowledge, I have memorized this so I can use it to beat you over the head with it”. This scares people off and I think it closes the door to real discussion and talk of Jesus and the Christian message. And it even leads to a pride filled debate. Listen, the Bible is a great book, I read it daily. But it isn’t any good if you’re using it simply to display or quantify some point of knowledge. It’s a book of faith, it is meant to live and share in our life. Stop using it to sound smarter or more devout than the next guy. You just look like a tool when you do. And if you are really honest the way it sometimes gets used and the quotes that are taken out of context mean that I could do the same with a copy of Stephen King’s The Stand. Meaning you aren’t illuminating anything, you’re simply narrowing it out and that sucks man.
Christianity means one basic law to mean. Love each other, even when love is the last thing on your mind. Everything else can be encompassed in that. Be kind and generous too. Jesus didn’t come to us and say to make lines, divisions and classifications. He told us to stop being weenies and start being good. The world will balance out then. And he demanded we do this with bravery and the full commitment of our souls. And that is all I am trying to do. That is the goal in my life, if I can do that all else will work into that.
Of course I could go on and on, but this isn’t a criticism as much as it’s an open letter to myself mostly. A public statement of mission and vision. And a hope I can find others who feel as I do. I want to live this and never fall into the traps I see around me. To always be aware. I am here for a reason and I have a job to do. And even though I feel like I have no clue what it may be. I am working my way toward the steadfastness that I need to do what my God and my soul know is right.
Be well, be love