The Christian Faith I grew up with was a pass-fail proposition.
You were either:
in or out,
saved or damned,
Christian or not—period.
The only problem was, the people who decided such things kept moving the darn line.
For example, to be “Bible believing” meant you were most definitely in, however if you concluded that the earth was more than 6,000 years old or that there probably wasn’t actually a talking snake in Genesis’ creation story or that a specific woman named Eve most likely didn’t get formed from another guy named Adam’s rib or that God didn’t actually dictate the Bible from Heaven or drop it already written, leather-bound and shrink-wrapped from the sky; well then you weren’t actually Bible believing after all, and you were out—written off as a heretic or a backslider.
And so it went with God and the things of God and God’s people. They all got shrunken down and with it so did the Christian faith.
Over the last several hundred years, Christianity has evolved into an ever-narrowing set of criteria regarding what one can believe about the Bible or about Jesus, or how once can vote on the hot button issues or hear God’s voice, or pray, worship, love, or breathe and still be a card-carrying Christian with valid membership in The Club. And inclusion here is heavily guarded by self-appointed, self-righteous gatekeepers who claim a monopoly on genuine faith and proper expression of that faith, and who rush to deem someone else “not really a Christian“.
If you’re like me and you’re one of the millions of people who finds themselves in one or a thousand ways deviating from what is “correct,” please understand how relative and unhelpful that word really is when it comes to the Creator of all that has ever been created.
Here’s some really good news for us all:
You can be a Christian and…
– not believe that people born LGBTQ are inherently sinful because of that fact.
– trust much of what Science has revealed about the world and how it works.
– not believe in a talking snake.
– believe that Hell might not really exist.
– notice what appear to be contradictions in the Bible.
– not believe you need a magic prayer to escape eternal torment.
– have non-Christian friends without having an agenda to “get them saved”.
– allow Biology, Archeology, Astronomy, and Psychology to all shape your Theology.
– point out when you see a church or pastor doing damage or perpetuating hatred.
– believe that dinosaurs existed on a very, very old earth.
– not vote Republican.
– see the beauty and truth in other faith traditions and even joyfully learn from them.
– believe that there is true stuff not in the Bible, and stuff in the Bible that isn’t true.
– not go to church on Sundays.
– have unresolved questions about major tenets of the Christian faith.
– not be completely sure who Jesus is but yet love him deeply and walk in his ways.
Power and control are seductive things, even for otherwise spiritual people. As a result, many Christians and church leaders often find themselves compelled to try and exert both of these over others, in matters of faith. In order to do this, they will often belittle people and malign their character and question their authenticity and doubt their intelligence and evaluate their morality and discount their experiences, should those people come to different spiritual conclusions than their own.
Reject this treatment at all costs my friends as it’s of the Devil (if he exists).
If someone tells you that you’re not doing Christianity right, simply refuse to believe them because they aren’t qualified to make such a claim. They are, after all human and as a result they are as equally flawed, biased, and full of contradictions and inconsistencies as they can ever claim that you are. They have the same evidence at their disposal that you do; the same Scriptures and the same books and the same ability to reason and understand and experience and listen and decide.
No one, no matter how earnest or faithful or educated or passionate or dedicated has an objective faith.
We are all equally products of our specific stories and the sum totals of our upbringing, education, personality type, place of birth, mentors, teachers, and life experiences. As a result none of us can ever claim sole ownership of the Truth.
Friends, despite what you may have experienced or been led to believe, Christianity is massive and wildly diverse and uncontainable, if it accurately refers to a God who is certainly all those things.
God cannot be placed in a box.
God is the box.
All that is true and good and beautiful is of that God.
And you get to live in it and breathe it in and discover it without constraints.
Never let someone else shrink your story. If Jesus wants your faith to look different than it does, trust that he will tell you himself; not a famous preacher or a church friend—and definitely not some random dude on a blog comment section.
Your Christianity is no other human being’s jurisdiction.