Recently, someone called me out on a statement I’ve been known to make from time to time. I’ve been quoted as saying that I’m “Christian, but not religious”. That person really called me to task and asked me to expand on what that means to me exactly. I think I’ve always had a comfortable understanding what that means to me, but I’ve never had to paint that picture or define what I truly mean when I make that statement. Going through a period in my life where Faith is truly all I have to lean on, I was challenged to discern my feelings, situation, experience, challenges, triumphs and relationships to arrive at a response that is not just “off the cuff”.
Having recently moved to a new community and beginning the process of making new connections can make for a lot fun and excitement, but there are significant periods of time where, it’s just me (of course, God is there too). It’s during those times where my faith and my relationship with God really gets put to the test.
When writing my response, I didn’t have to hesitate, I just had to try to define what my walk looks like.
Here’s the result….
“Expand on my faith… hmmm… that I can do. It’s odd you should ask me this… today especially. I was recently in the office of the pastor of my Church. We’re in the process of getting to know each other and becoming friends. I was telling him about my faith and what it’s based on. Beyond what we were talking about (though some of this was a part of the discussion), It’s not based on my showing up in Church on Sunday, singing on a worship team or serving people in some way in the hope that I’m doing something good or of value.
Faith is about trust, respect, and integrity. It’s knowing that while Christ was here, he was not here to tell people how to live their lives, but rather, to show us. He did not want to force us, but to give us an alternative, an example. Mostly though, I believe Christ was here to love us. This is not some fantasy I believe. Far from it. I truly believe Christ was here, I believe he lives on and I truly believe that one day (which no one will know until it happens) He will come again.
Faith is not something you talk about, or some expressions you make, it’s something you live. Just because I talk about Jesus with confidence doesn’t make me faithful. Trusting in Him, in what He’s teaching me and acting on that understanding reveals my faith. Trusting that He’s here with me and walking with me, even when it would be easier to depend on what I know or what I can see is an example of my faith. For me, faith is trusting what Christ is trying to show me in order to choose to truly live the life He’s created for me.
If you’ve chosen to read this far, I’ll share with you that I don’t use God or Jesus 10 times in each sentence. I don’t say “praise God” or “Hallelujah” every other sentence. Words don’t make me faithful or reveal my faith. I’m just a regular person like everyone else. My life is not perfect and I suffer the same trials as everyone else. Choosing to follow my life in faith does not guarantee that it will be perfect or that I am perfect. I’m just as flawed as anyone living on Earth. To be honest, there are many “people of faith” who do more to steer folks away from a possible relationship with God because of their “religious” views, expressions and actions than there are who lead others to him because of how they choose to demonstrate their “belief”. It’s much harder to love someone you don’t agree with, whose viewpoint you don’t share and whose lifestyle choices clash with your own than it is to point a finger at them and tell them you don’t agree with them or that they’re wrong. Don’t misunderstand, sometimes we need to share the kind truth with each other, but we must be careful to ensure it’s more about truth than our comfortable perspective.
I don’t live my life following Christ because there’s a set of rules I must adhere to. I do not live in fear, but rather, I live my life with a healthy love and respect for God. I want to understand why God shares a path for us in the way that He does. He doesn’t ask us to follow Him because he’s a control freak. He’s God. He doesn’t need to. Instead, I truly believe that he has our best interests at heart and wants us to learn why he provided the wisdom and path that he has. This is not blind obedience we’re called to. It’s really no different than the love a parent would show and guide a child with. God’s word to us is for our benefit and it is shared out of love and a desire to see us thrive.
I could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the picture. So… if you would like to have an honest and open discussion about it sometime, I’d be more than happy to share time with you. If not, I completely understand, but this is who I am. God put within me a heart of love, though it’s taken me years to finally come to the point where I may be humble enough to share it with someone. Time will tell that tale.
We never did share that conversation, though I did receive a reply which let me know what I shared was understood and appreciated.
We don’t need to agree to live and love together, but we do need to be respectful and that…. sometimes, takes faith.
Have a great weekend and remember while you’re following your nose, there is much you can lean on because you’re loved and valued. In that, you can have faith.