My faith has gone from one end to the other over the last five years. It has taken me from certainty to doubt more times than I care to count. There are seasons in life where I just really don’t know anything.
And I have learned to be comfortable during those times.
What I call myself is not necessarily a reflection of where I am in my faith journey. I do believe that what Jesus taught and how Jesus lived is something so unique and different from a life without any faith or purpose. I want to teach my kids to live that kind of life. A life that loves and serves others. A heart filled with compassion. A desire to take care of animals and the environment. I want them to learn to be happy with less in order to give away more.
Sounds all pretty and happy and beautiful, right? Would you believe that this offends people?
The other night, Bryan and I were at a house gathering with people who don’t view faith/life the way we do. This is not new to us. We left the Church officially about a year ago and even before then, our changing views were not well received among most of our friends and family. A political discussion broke out at the table Bryan and I were sitting at. It was your typical echo chamber of people who all agreed on the same things: Jesus and His love for guns. As polite as I possibly could be, I began asking questions. I challenged the notion that Americans should fear the government and therefore maintain the right to carry automatic assault weapons in their homes. (I mean, WHAT??????) I also refuted their accusations that liberals only want to shut down, persecute, and silence all Christians. (Are you for real??????)
As we continued and eventually ended our discussion, we all maintained a level of respect for one another and in the end, agreed to disagree.
The next day, Bryan received a message from the host of the party. In his message he accused us of making the other guests at the party feel uncomfortable and demanded that we no longer share our thoughts on faith, love, and politics in his home…ever. We asked why? We tried to understand better where they were coming from. We explained that we had never banned their voice in our home despite many disagreements. But instead of talking this out, we were met with the following meme:
Of course our defenses were and are still up. No voice? Not even a discussion on how things could be different? Or the decency to even ask us why we believe differently? It hurt us. Verbally abuses??? Never at any time was there name calling or attacks thrown by Bryan or myself. Just questions.
Here’s the thing, though. Bryan and I will always welcome discussion and conversation in our home or anywhere we may be. We want to learn from people who are different from us and we realize that change will never happen without talking to each other. What surprises me is how we aren’t viewed with that same love, care, and worthiness. And these are people that claim to be “Christians”. Something is so off with this picture.
No matter where my faith journey takes me, I hope that I will always be moving closer and closer to the Cross. What I mean by that is this: Jesus (whether you believe or not) came into this world as the Son of God…He was God in the flesh. But instead of flexing his power muscle, He lived a humble life. He washed feet, healed the sick, hung out with outcasts, fed the hungry. And then died at the hands of his enemies on a cross. That story is powerful. I don’t have the answers regarding Heaven or Hell or who’s in or who’s out or if all of that is even real. But what I do have is a desire to love people the way that Jesus loved. Call me a dreamer, a liberal, or a crazy person. This way of life is the only thing that makes sense to me right now. It’s the only thing that has made sense to Bryan and I for the last few years.
Why is it that “Christians” who read their Bibles daily, attend church regularly, and have “Jesus” bumper stickers, don’t really want to follow Jesus much at all? Let’s say that my views on Faith are all wrong. At the very least, wouldn’t the “Christian” want to witness to me in some way to help me see the light? Instead, my voice has been banned from the party…literally.
When I say that I am not a Christian, it’s not that I don’t want to follow Jesus. By all means, I love Jesus! Bryan and I have made huge changes in our life and marriage to live out His call to love others sacrificially. What I mean when I say I am not a Christian is that I am not like “them”. I don’t care if you are a gun toting, trump supporting, conservative extremist. You are welcome to enter into a discussion with me. You will be treated with love and respect. Things may get heated and you may not like what I have to say anymore than I like what you have to say, but how else will we ever get anywhere if we never sit down and talk to one another?
There are very few people who have stuck by Bryan and I through all of our ups and downs. And some of these friends aren’t even people of Faith. What does that say for the testimony of the American Church? That people who don’t even believe in Jesus could love us far better than those who claim to follow Him.