Tag Archives: Church

Defending God (#22)

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I was having a conversation with someone the other day pertaining to politics and the role of religion in shaping one’s political opinion. I wondered aloud whether our differing theological views could contribute to any strife we might have in future, to which he replied “I don’t think so – I haven’t really seen it (Christianity) manifest in you”. Hearing that was like a slap to my face, after all the worst thing you could hear as a Christian is that you aren’t very Christ-like.

It took me a few minutes to process what he had meant by that, and I realised that to me, the manifestation of Christianity is love and patience and altruism learnt from being unconditionally loved by God. But what he had meant by that statement was that I was open-minded, tolerant of views different to my own and capable of reasonable debate. And it really saddened me to see what he thought Christianity was. Ignoring the sign-touting, hate-spewing extremists that plague every religion (after all, assholes will always exist regardless of what group you belong to), I think that there is a general defensiveness to modern day Christians. I think it is a brilliant thing that there is greater discussion, awareness and acceptance of more left-wing or radical ideas, even if I do not agree with them all. But I can see how this may feel threatening to the church. However, I don’t think being defensive will help anyone better understand Christ.

I don’t think it is our right to be offended when people reject Jesus. I often remind myself that a Muslim or a Hindu may believe in their faith as deeply as I do in mine. So who am I to tell them that they are wrong? I certainly wouldn’t appreciate them telling me what to believe in. I think it is important to bring people to Christ, but I think it is most important to do that through our actions; by quietly loving people, and being forgiving and gracious. I have a long way to go to become the kind of person I would like to be. But frankly, I think God doesn’t need defending to other people, I believe that the bible is the truth – my truth – and that God is perfect, and in His perfection, there is no need to defend or explain His word. We do not need to defend God against people, but we should represent him to people. Defensiveness stems from fear, not faith, and as Christians I think the only defensive front we need to take is to defend ourselves to God: to be able to justify our decisions and actions, and how we treat others and deal with situations in our lifetime. As John 3:17 says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Tightrope Faith

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I haven’t been to church since I came back from Perth, not due to any self-identity crisis, but rather I no longer feel at one with my old church- I suppose I had always been at conflict with how commercial it all was, not in the sense whereby it is headed by greedy men in search of fame and wealth, but rather it’s whole structure of organisation. If you were in a certain school, you would be in a group with all the other people who were also in that same school or area, and if you have graduated, you are forced to leave the group and move on to a new group containing like people. It was a simple and straightforward system, designed to keep everything organised and every person in check; like an efficient assembly line in a factory. The problem was, we were sentient people who build emotional bonds and have sentiments and independent thought, not stationary goods. I suppose when I was forced to leave all my friends I had grown to love and depend on dearly simply because we all graduated, I never healed and never quite got used to my new appointed ‘family’. And I suppose that’s why I don’t feel like I’ve really got a home to come back to.

I never liked how there was a hierarchy of ‘leadership’ and how there was only one set definition of what it is to be a leader. All one had to do was basically display all the qualities that the church was looking for, know the right people and speak the right words- I had friends who became ‘leaders’ who were rotten and corrupted inside- it shook me a lot to realise how it was all a facade. The quality that I felt my church was asking for in a leader was simply people who didn’t question authority and didn’t question decisions. But I think if you are going to elevate something to the highest, such that it becomes something worth living for, wouldn’t you want to make sure you knew what it really was about? Someone who has questioned and battled and seeked will be stronger in times of trouble than someone who blindly follows. I could never force myself to respect someone, even if someone else had appointed them over me. I had never responded well to authority, and a church should never be built on that. The greatest leaders are the ones who most have a passion to serve their people, not the ones who want to be elevated and worshipped.

I think it is important to ask questions in life, even the ones that we know we could never get an answer to. Questioning things grow our minds and build our characters. I think we should live life trying to figure out for ourselves what the meaning behind and of everything is, but not be consumed with finding the answer. I ask many questions but it doesn’t discourage me when I can’t find an answer because I believe it is simply a matter of time: I will know them all after I die.

Today though, I went to a Christmas service, and the topic of Body, Soul, Spirit came up. We are all comprised of three foundational components: the body, soul and spirit. And when one is not tended to it becomes malnourished and we feel unsettled in our hearts. The parable of the tight rope walker (no this is just a story, not a bible parable) was told:
A young man was the best tight rope walker in all the Earth; he had crossed the Niagra falls a dozen times and had walked from the tips of buildings to bridges. Through all his marvellous feats he had accumulated a crowd of fans and supporters. One day he asked his supporters “who thinks I am able to cross the Niagara blindfolded with a man on my back?” and a cheer swelled through the air with a chorus of “YES, you can!” and “You surely will!” He then asked “so who volunteers to sit on my back?” and was met with silence. That is what blind faith is, to be able to proclaim it when times are good but unable to trust in it when faced with difficulty.

All the time I fear that the amount of faith I harbour is not large enough for me to be saved (which was why I was legitimately worried about the negligible possibility that the world might have ended yesterday- because I hadn’t built my faith up enough in preparation to die, stupid as that sounds.) Today I realised how big your faith is, is not important. It is the reliability of the object of your faith that is important. And my God can do anything.

Jol.