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Posts Tagged ‘church environment’

My spirit longs for connection. I long to have a circle of friends in my life with whom we can discuss anything and everything, whether we disagree or not. I envision this group of friends to see each other regularly, be committed to each other in helping and supporting one another, and occasionally gathering around the table for some good food and conversation. I am not particularly social, but this idealistic vision of close friends seems to be the answer to fulfilling a desire deep within to connect with others in a way I can not at this place in my life. The first reason being that those friends I do have live states away and the second being that the ones around me that have that potential are either very busy or simply do not have the capability of viewing things in an open-minded way. These people, of course, happen to be Christians.

I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I believe the Bible is the Word of God and I believe that God speaks to us and has a relationship with us on a very personal level. So naturally I meet people who also believe these things and happen to be Christians too, mostly we meet at a place we call “church”. They are nice enough folks who can have wonderful surface level conversations. We can be civil with one another when we stay on the surface because it is assumed that, as a fellow Christian, I believe everything they believe too. This level is easy and it makes us happy. A lot of people choose to stay on this level because we can avoid drama that way. This level also makes me, personally, feel very lonely. I need real connection.
Enter deeper level conversations. These conversations happen a lot more frequently in our day and age because the internet gives us plenty of opportunities to see other’s posts on articles and see a little bit into their worldview. They happen in a way that can sometimes be sneaky, an opinion is posted in conjunction with an article and it seems friendly and open enough that it makes you feel comfortable to engage in the topic. Here is the problem: we don’t talk this way in person so our tone of voice and understanding of our background is completely left out. These things matter when engaging in deeper level conversations because it creates context. So, this kind of conversation cannot only make one feel lonely, but it can also make one feel misunderstood and frustrated.
There is another problem that happens when conversing with Christians, and this is perhaps the most irritating. Christians, despite their effort to make you believe otherwise, are extremely closed-minded. Add self-righteous to that list, and you have an incredibly irritating situation on your hands. So as much as we try to engage in an open, deeper-level, enriching conversation with most people who call themselves Christians, we end up feeling angry and irritated at their extreme blindness and general lack of self-awareness.
This is the situation I have been finding myself in since my recent plunge back into the church scene. I try to make deep-level connections with other Christians and instead I get angry and want to avoid being around Christians all together. This isn’t because we disagree on many religious and political topics, but rather how their responses completely misuse bible verses, have a lack of empathy, and have a reverence for the law rather than Jesus’ example. When you say something they disagree with all of a sudden you have left the civility of the conversation and it turns towards a feeling of being judged. Personally, I can not fathom how someone can deeply know Christ and follow the example that Jesus set when He was walking on this earth and act the way I see most Christians act. To me the answer is simple, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-40).

Everything else falls under the umbrella of love, or rather “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When we talk about morality and judgment, we should be concerned only with how those people are receiving the love of Jesus.

If our actions aren’t displaying the kind of love Jesus showed the “sinners” of that day then we aren’t doing our job as Christians. I used to be excited when I met another Christian but now my feeling is more on the “oh great, here we go” side. Christians focus on words like “rebuke” and “sin” instead of “love” and “sacrifice”. Everything about religion changed the minute Jesus died on the cross, showing us the truest meaning of love and sacrifice. As Christians we don’t have to be so afraid of “being right” and arguing with others, pride doesn’t get us very far. It doesn’t show the world the power of the cross.

I love being able to talk openly about many controversial issues, and it is okay to disagree with each other. What I do not like to do is talk with someone who has a completely closed mind, full of pride who is misusing the Bible. I do not like to talk with someone who is not even hearing a word I’m saying because they are too busy repeating whatever it is they have heard in church their whole life, and I am not alone. What a lot of Christians don’t understand is that this kind of behavior turns people away. Hearing others speak “Christianese” gets pretty old, it would be nice to hear some original thoughts every once and a while.

I feel pity for Christians like these, mainly because I used to be one. The last few years have been quite a spiritual journey for me and I never imagined I would be in the place I am now. I fought God tooth and nail when it came to some of things I learned in church but never questioned or asked God about it for myself. Once I started seeking God and digging in to the Bible, truly seeking and asking with an open heart, well that is when things started to change for me.

This verse really sums up this journey for me:

“Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

 So, when it comes to going to church and actually being a part of it rather than walking in and leaving, I feel discouraged.  It is a struggle and a frustration to be around Christians who only know how to speak Christianese, yet I hang on to the fact that encountering Jesus the way I do there is worth it.
Anyone else understand the way I feel?

 

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I was raised in a fairly conservative Christian home. My parents made sure we got a good Christian education and church experience. Even though both institutions were unhealthy, they still laid a solid foundation of faith. Over the years, though, I’ve gradually moved more and more left. This doesn’t mean i’m not a Christian, it just means I’ve started thinking on my own and have determined that the majority of Christians use The Bible to fulfill their own agenda. They use verses to back up what they say The Bible says is true. I can’t see though how the Jesus I’ve gotten to know would act the way these Christians act or think the way they think. The last few months I have been church-less. This isn’t of my own doing, back in December I wrote a post about how I was losing my church. Since then I haven’t been able to find the kind of church I would like to see my family and I attending. Am I floating on clouds to believe there is a church out there who teaches the combination of everything I believe is true? Am I being unreasonable to think that I don’t want to attend a church who teaches some of these values that I have been raised with my entire life? This isn’t political, I’m not looking for a democratic church (I still do not consider myself either Republican or Democrat), just something a little less than traditional. I want my son to be in a church environment. I want him to learn about Jesus and be surrounded by other kids, I want him to go to Sunday School. I’m confident that with our direction as his parents we can talk through all that junk that the church teaches and help him figure it out for himself. I hesitate because I have learned through my most recent church that church is about community. I have issues with being in a relatively big church because I have a difficult time connecting with others and once I do connect with them I fear they will boldly speak so ignorantly and stubbornly as most Christians I know. That is a problem for me because if I don’t keep my mouth shut then I know something terrible is bound to happen, but I want them to get to know me for me. This is possibly more fearful than I should be and I am possibly caring a little too much of what my maybe future community will think of me, I don’t know. What I do know is that I can not let myself go to another church where I keep my head down until I find my usual seat then leave just early enough to miss the crowd being excused for the day. I miss going to church. I miss the people that I have grown to love and I fear I will never find a church that I love or agree with more than my last one. I’m not trying to come off as whiny, I am just still dealing with this loss and every new loss I have just reminds me of this one. I have no answer, yet. I will keep seeking and praying until my heart finds its home.

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