I Don’t See the Way I Used To
In this life, in this world around me, I don’t see things the way I used to anymore. I process church sermons differently. I react to pithy Facebook memes about God differently. I find commonality and comfort in different kinds of literature than I used to. I wrinkle my nose when someone tries to tell me specifics about how to obey my Bible, and I’m discovering new ways of understanding grace that were totally cut off to me before.
I’ve blown Pandora’s box wide open, and I’ve asked questions I never thought I’d ask.
And my goodness gracious, I’m so much better off for it. I read a quote somewhere that says once you’ve opened the gate and ventured out into the big wide world, once you’ve reached your mind out into places it’s never gone before, there is no going back. Your life will never be the same. Boy has that been true of my life! I don’t think I could ever again be comfortable with the idea that the Bible is one, perfectly consistent, perfectly coherent, perfectly perfect work of literature anymore. I’ll never again be comfortable with the idea that one Moral Code can be applied universally, across the board, to every single human being who has ever lived. I’ll never be comfortable with drawing battle lines between science and religion, or letting devotion to doctrine trump compassion. I’ll never be comfortable with a lot of things, and I think that’s really good.
Another viewpoint that has transformed slowly for me is how to be the right sort of witness for Jesus. I used to think the best way to witness is to have all the right answers, and to be opinionated about those answers. And then, when I realized all my answers weren’t as simple as I thought, and I started asking questions, I developed into a different but equally ineffective way of being a witness. I began to rag on others to think more critically, to push the boundaries and change their way of living out Christianity in all the same ways that I have been doing. But I’m learning (again, oh so slowly) that this isn’t the best way to be a witness either. Do I think a lot of Christians need to change the way they look at faith and truth and love and Christianity and all of it? Sure I do. But talking incessantly about all the things they need to change isn’t really going to help change happen—all it will do is turn people off.
So I’m trying to be the sort of witness who practices cognitive empathy. I’m trying to see the world through the eyes of the people around me and meet them where they are instead of trying to press my mold of what Christianity looks like onto them. And I’m trying to practice love—the kind of love that is diligent and selfless and relentless. The kind of love that can only be demonstrated by someone who is lost in the love of the Father themselves.
I can’t be the sort of person who tells people how to be a Christian, because I’ve been told that my whole life, and it never really did much good for me. And I’m so, so very glad that I see things differently now, and I’m going to focus on living that difference.