I remember growing up and believing myself to be the face of future Christianity. I thought I was going to be a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. I wore my GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS t-shirt, listened to Petra, Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk sing songs like “I Am On The Rock,” “Place In This World,” and “Jesus Is Still Alright With Me.”
I got out of the pool during swim practice and left my teammates like a good Adventist at Sundown each Friday. I didn’t drink or party with my friends. I had a HE LOVES ME bumper sticker on the back of my 1980 Toyota Corolla right next to an anti-abortion bumper sticker. I read Christian books, attended Christian youth conferences, and even spoke sermon-style to a group of church members at a vespers meeting.
But, there were some issues that weighed heavily on me at that time. They were issues that would continue to weigh on me for years to come: What was I supposed to think about my dear grandparents who loved me, provided breakfast for me each morning before college classes, co-signed a loan for me to buy a car, but, didn’t attend church? What was I to think about the Contemporary Christian Music artists that I so avidly adored and that I perceived to be so sincere, but, in reality were no better than I? Or, wait a minute, maybe they were better. Maybe they were closer to God. No. That can’t be right. They weren’t Seventh-Day Adventists! What about babies born in China or third-world aboriginal cultures where they will never hear about Jesus? Are they going to hell just because they didn’t have the technology to get the Billy Graham broadcast that included an altar call? What about those friends of mine who, though they taught me to get drunk, smoke cigarettes, and do other things I shouldn’t do, also taught me what it meant to have somebody I could rely on?
The truth is that God’s grace surfaces in so many different forms throughout our lives. Nobody in this world is as they should be. We are all lost: The condescending Christian that responds to your apology with an I-told-you-so-type attitude. The Pope, Ellen G. White, Ghandi, John Lennon, Trent Reznor, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Bono, Tony Blair, my in-laws, and myself.
If any of us had to lay our hope in our own pathetic efforts to be good, attend church services, pay tithe, perform rituals, or argue our way into heaven, we would all face eternal seperation from God. I don’t know if there is an eternal Hell or if all the damned just cease to exist. What I do know is that our only hope is in God’s grace. His grace and his Love far supercede any church doctrine, any liturgy, any papal mandate, and any governmental law. The Creator knows the hearts of those who have never heard the gospel and He knows the hearts of those who have heard, but, persistently deny the gospel. His justice will be served.
Its strange indeed that anybody on earth would have the audacity to try to outwit God. Instead, I admit my flawed self. I concede that my own direction will only lead to pain for myself and those around me. My hope rests in my faith. My faith built on His grace. God offers his fatherly, unconditional, loving, eternal acceptance to me. I accept it. I pray that you do, too.
thanks for commenting on my blog. really and truly. i read this post, and agree with some points, and definitely believe in your freedom to express it. so i respond. and please don’t be offended by anything i write.
my questions/reponses include:
how do we know a God exists?
how do we know that the God we read about in the bible exists?
how can we develop faith if we don’t have those answers? (and i know that in the bible – romans? – it speaks of faith being the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of things not beheld. to me this means, the true definition of faith (in my mind) is that we trust something even though we don’t have proof per se. that drives my sometimes logical brain nutty. how can i trust in something when i have no proof what i believe is in line with reality?
and i know, we look around us and see such beauty and precision and it is so complex that we cannot recreate it. but how do we know this reflects a God? to me, it requires a leap of faith to believe solely in a God or solely in evolution. both ideas seem hard to believe (God, because we have no concrete evidence of God – as in contact, public display – evolution because science hasn’t reached the skill level to actually prove anything either). either way, we have theories that require a certain form of faith.
or what if God is dead? We are made in God’s image? Or if we take the world around us, all things die eventually. A logical explanation would be that a God would die to (though with our definition of “God” that isn’t possible, but hi, we simple humans have made up our definition, dependant upon what we want to believe, and what a book says.
and that book, it’s both thousands of years old and also has both literal and figurative accounts in it – i have no desire to trust anyone on earth’s decision as to what is literal and what is figurative. And with the track record of humans decisions and the numerous “enlightened” viewpoint changes that have gone on in religions in general (such as women being treated poorly, or different races – gentiles etc etc), i certainly don’t have “faith” in that either.
and this is the point where i was basically told (growing up, i’m sure people are more “enlightened” now) that if i don’t feel a close relationship with God through prayer, then i’m doing something wrong. that seems like such an overtly flawed system, whereby there can be no criticism, because it’s your own fault if it’s not working. it’s my fault that as a child, while praying, i didn’t feel loved or cared for by God for that, and conveniently i’m to blame.
oh how i wish/hope there is a God, because frankly, humans are pathetic and weak and cannot be trusted. i can’t put my faith in human reasonings. so i don’t follow a specific religion, because there is no proof that it is the right religion.
and i know, i think waaaay too much about this (obviously) but i can’t imagine worshipping a God, who created me this way, and then will reject me for searching and not just blindly obeying humans over God.
in the end, i get myself so very wound up by all these thoughts, and i can even recognize that the anger and upset that i feel is basically because of humans, both accidentally and purposely, deceiving me when it comes to religion. i also know that logically, i shouldn’t blame a God for that. but the fact remains: i still have all these questions, and throughout my searching i have not found any answers. the only comfort i have found is in staying in the moment, not questioning so much and observing what may or may not be a God’s creation, hope-hope-hoping that one day i find some form of peace about the matter, and even faith too.
ps. as i’ve said, i’m not trying to be inflammatory, nor am i attempting blasphemy, but these are my thoughts. if i knew how to just have faith, i most assuredly would, as it seems to be the “wiser”, less stressful, more peaceful course but i must be true to myself and my instincts rather than blindly having faith. I’m not suggesting that that i am right (whatever “right” is or means), just expressing my thought process i guess.