Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Am Not Your Christian

For years I have struggled to vocalize the frustration of a common pattern among those who hear that I follow Jesus and His teachings. Many critics of my beliefs are either skeptics by birth or are former church-goers who had a falling-out with their spiritual community. It's with these second types of critics that I'm mostly concerned with, although several that fall into the first category have made an equally irritating claim that is similar which I will point out in a moment. As a follower of Jesus, it is true that I share similar beliefs with many people who make the claim to be "Christians", but at this juncture in the joint spiritual experience of seeking out the ethereal communion with God through His Son; it must be stipulated that there is massive amounts of division amongst the human-formed groups of individuals caused by disagreements over the ideas about various details which were either not hammered out in the Bible or were considered ambiguous by many and thus in turn interpreted in multiple ways. Centuries ago these disagreements were worth killing over, but now that bloodshed is out of style for most of these Christian groups, the more favorable debate-and-reject style of proverbial murder has become the contemporary mode of operation. Yes, there are some but few and far between who seek to reach across the void to other theological camps and pursue a common goal, but on the whole most groups stick to themselves and continue to bolster their own egos with their sense of superior ideology.

Basically, I'm conceding that while Christians preach a good message about unity in Christ and entering into the fold of Church, a universal physical and temporal-transcending entity made up of individuals who believe in a common creed; there is in fact much division which was created by people and to this day perpetuated by people. It is important to make this concession before going further because many will retort to my next claim with, "But aren't you all believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you not all one body of Christ?"

Critics of my faith claim to have adequate knowledge and understanding of my faith by pointing to their background in one denomination or another while adding anecdotal stories about some horrific childhood experience that signified the death of their hope in anything the Church had to offer them. This very claim is so aggravating to me because it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the corruption which runs rampant throughout the Christ-following community. The corruption I speak of is the gross mis-use of our intellect to separate and subjugate believers into one doctrine or another while excluding other doctrines or even considering allowing an inter-doctrinal community to exist. It is true that some denominations are capable of working for a short period of time with other denominations to share in the purpose of further fulfilling the Great Commission. The assumption by my critics is thus that I am just like their idea of Christians which they know from their childhood. Worse yet, they add to that all they've learned from the media about Christianity and assume that I'm some ultra-conservative Bible-thumping young man who votes Republican on every election that comes up.

"Haha, wait... So you're saying that you're not?"

That is indeed what I am saying. In fact, most people who were to judge me by first appearances would either say that I am a hippy or a hipster. I don't wear collared shirts, I have long hair, and I am more likely to be found on the street corner listening to the story of a homeless man than to be found sitting in a Bible study. While I have been raised in a fundamentalist church with conservative parents and taught a very rigid doctrine of theology (I've even taken my first two years of ministry training), I have gone on to do what evangelicals refer to as, "taking ownership of my faith". This process is when an individual who was raised in church decides to investigate their faith further and make a decision based on their own beliefs as opposed to simply choking down everything they've been taught their entire life. Many critics don't even know this is a process of each individual's spiritual journey in the Christian community, but that may be in part due to the fact that this taking ownership of one's faith-process is different in each denomination.

Others who have never really taken the journey of a Christ-follower may have done something else that gave them the [false] idea that they're knowledgeable and understanding of the complexities of my faith because they visited several different church buildings and had numerous discussions with members of different congregations. This is admirable, but it is foolish of said critics to think that they're diverse portfolio of conversations makes them an expert on MY faith. Have you put the pieces together yet? My faith is mine. There are many people who believe in very similar things as I do, but no one else believes exactly, detail for detail, as I do. When I respond to claims about Christianity in general, I try to separate my personal faith and commonly held beliefs by those whom I closely align myself with. I do this because my personal faith is useless to others who are seeking theological or philosophical answers regarding Christ.

In conclusion, I point out this Scripture which encapsulates the principle of taking ownership of one's own faith: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." - Philippians 2:12 (KJV).

For Jah,

No comments:

Post a Comment