Other people question my faith. I don’t. It seems the greater majority of Christians that I know and love and associate with are conservative politically and my politics simply rub them the wrong way. Many have determined with certainty, and to their own satisfaction, that I simply am not a follower of Christ.
I love Jesus. I love His teachings and what He is in terms of love, forgiveness, mercy and redemption. As a person clawing his way up from the depths of grief it is a message that I need daily from moment to moment. I pray. I read. And I believe that old fashioned version of the gospel… about believing to be saved and about serving others because of love. This system has served me well and continues to serve me… and I will continue to serve Him.
I do run into difficulties. Faith really is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It is this hope and substance that sustains me as much as air and water and food. And it isn’t that I don’t have doubts… God is always bigger than my doubts.
And so that is okay.. I’m okay. I struggle with Christianity… as this large social force. I struggle to reconcile myself to the conservative wing… to those that seem to deny science and deny something basic to faith, a love of truth, a love of humility, and a deep love of people who are often broken, lost and disregarded. I know they care. I know they believe. And I know they believe what they have is genuine. As much as some may want to fix me… I do not really wish to fix anyone. (Perhaps my faith is becoming quieter and more personal and my certainty in what I think I know is slipping.) It really is about love. Not fear. Not protection. Just love.
There are things I want to see… I want people to stop saying things like “everything happens for a reason,” “God never gives us more then we could handle,” and “God helps those who help themselves.” I don’t need to hear those things. My current faith is based around a life where the worst thing has happened for no real reason, where what has happened is far more than I can remotely handle and where I am simply incapable of helping myself. I’m here because other people stepped in and rescued me. I am pretty sure that I am not done needing help.
I don’t want to be critical. I’m depressed. I’m asking for what I need. And this is supposed to be encouraging.
I want to see Christians encouraging each other. Supporting each other. I want to see amazing grace extended to those who don’t deserve it. I want to see hope communicated to a lost and needy world. That is important. I hate put downs. I hate to see people being made fun of. And so much of modern Christendom is this smugness of knowing better and being better… of putting people down and condemning bad behavior. Jesus reached out to those sinners and outcasts… And perhaps if we were the people that always brought joy by pulling people up, non believers would be more interested in hearing what we have to say. I need to see encouragement and grace and hope.
One last thing… pessimism. Ugh. Shouldn’t we be the most optimistic? I hear constantly about the decline of America and how much better things were in the past. That grates on people of color who don’t yearn for the good old days. I hear how Christianity is under attack and how persecuted we are in America… and that leaves me flat. Not here. Not in the U.S. Yeah in India, and China… and Indonesia… and in the Middle East. But not in Peoria.
It gives the illusion that Satan is winning. That we are losing the future… losing the youth… losing our country… losing the world. And that we are powerless to stop it. It makes us out to be weak and ineffective. We come off as sad and angry. Hopeless. Pathetic and worried.
And while I am here, refugees. I don’t want to build a wall. I don’t see the point. I don’t want a president who demeans women and minorities, mocks the disabled and POWs, and wants to bar Muslims from entering. Yeah, this is an election year and I have an opinion. One candidate is qualified but unacceptable. The other is totally unqualified and even more unacceptable. I don’t think we should stockpile guns or oppose better methods of screening buyers. I endeavor to put love first and to respond with love.
Lots of things are better. Better communications. Better medicine. Better graphics on video games. Cars are more reliable. And drug use is down. Violence is down. Murder is down. Hunger is down. Even things like war and terrorism are waning. More people have access to clean water. More people have access to adequate food and shelter.
And I can no longer take the pessimism.
We are and we remain the privileged majority. So what if they remove the Ten Commandments thing from some court? It was a 50 movie promotion. Really. Not there before the Cold War. Gay marriage? Wedding cakes? Really? Elected offices are secular. And secular power, control, enforcing our beliefs on others, legal preference for our practices and lifestyles was never something Jesus showed any passion for. I don’t think we are meant to take some kind of political control…
Watch some old footage of civil rights marchers being beaten by police, bitten by dogs, having the hoses turned on them. That is persecution. Persecution? Look around the world. There is real persecution out there. Economic. Violent. Political. Places where you can be jailed for your faith.. when your religion is outlawed. When you are denied a livelihood. Discrimination. Lynchings. Being dragged down and having your religious hair shaved and clothing cut off.
We should be the optimists. We should be the people of hope and certainty and courage. We should be at the front of the fight for justice… and the front of the fight for the outcasts and cast outs. Leading the charge for change and good. Our influence should be positive. We are the people of joy and energy… of power and conviction. Fearless. Fearless hopefulness and love. A fearless faith.
Any other faith is too small for the God I know. Any other faith is too small to save me from the darkness I feel. And perhaps it is time for me to start asking for it.