An Interesting Comment

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I’ve been thinking about posting and update about my spiritual journey, and this morning, I received a comment on this post. I started to answer it in the comments for that post, but since I was thinking about writing on this topic of religion again anyway, I figured I’d quote the comment and stick it in a new entry.

Anyway, here goes. Ricki writes:

Either you have “faith” or you do not. Either you believe, or you do not. There is no gray area here. Christ did not make this complicated by design nor do I think He expects us to. I say, sister, if you are confused then PLEASE get on your knees and ask for discernment and He shall grant it. He loves you. Period. End of conversation. Christ CANNOT lie. You say you pray but, how can you recieve a proper answer if you cannot have faith to begin with. Please… start there. God is not the author of confusion. With love in Christ Jesus, Ricki

While I think I understand where you’re coming from [believe it or not, I’ve been there] and I believe your heart is sincere, I think maybe we’re gonna have to agree to disagree here. I think I said I believed in God, in spite of my questioning, and that I haven’t gone into this new place lightly, or without LOTS of prayer.

The thing is, as I’ve prayed, I’ve also done my own research into Christianity as well as other religions, I’ve learned, and discerned, that there really is a big gray area. It’s not all black and white as we’re taught in the Church.

You’re right, God is not the author of confusion, but my confusion didn’t come from God, it came from listening to a man who turned out to be wrong about many things without doing my own praying, studying, and meditating on what was real and what wasn’t.

I was lazy, and I fully admit that now, for taking his word for it, but at the time, I really thought he knew what he was talking about. I mean, after all, he’d gone to Bible college for five years and I was a brand new Christian. I figured if my heart didn’t quite embrace what he said, it was because I wasn’t as spiritually advanced as he was and didn’t have enough faith.

So I squashed my own instincts and chose to believe what he said. And let me say that he wasn’t trying to brainwash me, and that in his heart, he sincerely believed what he said came from God. He was just wrong.

When I realized that much of what he had taught me was just plain wrong, I had a long time where I was extremely confused. I felt I had been lied to [and I was, even though the pastor didn’t realize he was lying, if that makes sense] and for a while, I blamed God. I had to work through the fact that the god I had believed in wasn’t really the God of creation.

I had to start over from scratch, and find the love of God that I knew was there but had strayed so far from in my legalistic views of right and wrong. I know that God did not cause my confusion about religion, man did. But the fact is, I am still left with the fallout from it. I am still the one who has to work it out.

Gone are the days when I can blindly accept what any man [or woman] says to me as True. If the issue matters to me, I have to research it myself and come to my own conclusions. Which is either a wonderful blessing or a horrid curse, depending on how you look at it.

On the one hand, I’m not exactly the type to fall into a cult of some kind and end up drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. But on the other hand, I’m also not necessarily gonna follow the One True Way either [if there is one] if I don’t find that my own experience and research backs it up as the Truth.

That can be dangerous if I end up on the wrong track and don’t realize it. I guess that’s where my faith comes in, and I do have faith. I believe with all my heart that there is a Creator [God, Higher Being, whatever you call him/her/it]. I know from the Bible that if you truly seek God you will find him [Jeremiah 29:13]. That’s what keeps me from giving up completely, you know?

It’s hard work to look stuff up for yourself, and when I look up the Greek lexicon [in the Blue Letter Bible, which has been an amazing resource. It can be a bit of a challenge to figure out how it works, but it’s worth the time…] it’s enabled me to look up the words of the Bible in the original Greek or Hebrew, and I’ve found several times where the ‘accepted’ meaning is only one of many possible translations.

The black or white becomes a nice shade of gray when you realize that what you thought the Bible said may not be what was meant by the people who wrote the original words. I’ve become skeptical when I hear someone say, “The Bible says that you absolutely will go to hell if you do this…”

One example is something I learned from a book called “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. The book is a study on John 15. I had always been taught that John 15:2 [NKJV] [NIV] means that any Christian who does not ‘bear fruit’ [bear fruit is Christian-speak for ‘doing good works’ and can mean anything from evangelizing non-Christians, (which means trying to convert them to Christianity) to taking care of the needy, the sick, people in prison, etc., to building a new church building, depending on which Christian you talk to] will be ‘cut off’ which was translated ‘go to hell, or suffer eternal damnation.’

Wilkinson said that when he did some research into that scripture and talked to some actual vineyard keepers, they told him that they never, ever cut off a branch because each branch is far too valuable. What that word, “airo {ah’-ee-ro}” that was translated ‘cut off’ in the NIV really means is a whole bunch of different stuff, one meaning of which is “Lift up.”

Do you know what real vineyard keepers do with branches that don’t bear fruit? They tie it up [airo] to a post or something so that it’s up off the ground, closer to the sun, so that it can get the nourishment it needs in order to become healthy and bear fruit.

Holy crapoli! That was my first clue that maybe the things I’d been taught by my religious leaders weren’t exactly the Truth. That is one of the scriptures used to make the point [in Christian circles] that you can lose your salvation. It was used [on me, at least] as a threat, that if I wasn’t ‘bearing fruit’ which in that case, meant doing whatever ministry the pastor said God had told him I was supposed to do, I was in danger of losing my salvation.

Because I believed that the pastor had the inside track on God’s will, I believed him when he said Steve and I should be involved in a certain ministry, even though that particular ministry was something that we had no interest in whatsoever. In fact, we’re not geared up for it at all. I believed that it would all work out and that God would make up for our shortcomings because that’s what God does: He’s strong when I am weak and all that.

While it’s true that God can [and does] help you in your weakness, he doesn’t necessarily expect you to pick the ministry you’re least suited for and jump in with both feet, which is kinda what we did. Steve and I failed miserably, believing the whole time that God would miraculously make us the people we were ‘supposed’ to be, people who would be the ones the pastor had prayed for, who would perfectly fill the spot he wanted us to.

We weren’t those people, and we ended up disappointing the pastor, ourselves, and at the time, I believed that we disappointed God, too.

I guess my point in all this rambling is that I once believed a man when he said, “This is the Truth, end of discussion,” and it turned out to be a mistake, one that I’m obviously still healing from.

The problem with black or white thinking is that when you believe absolutely that one thing is true, to the exclusion of all other points of view, possibilities and opinions, you close yourself off to the possibility of change and growth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I started this a long time ago, and I don’t really remember what I wrote, but I’m feeling impulsive and incoherent and I’m gonna tackle this one, commando style [but I’m wearing underwear].

Either you have “faith” or you do not. Either you believe, or you do not. There is no gray area here. Christ did not make this complicated by design nor do I think He expects us to. I say, sister, if you are confused then PLEASE get on your knees and ask for discernment and He shall grant it. He loves you. Period. End of conversation. Christ CANNOT lie. You say you pray but, how can you recieve a proper answer if you cannot have faith to begin with. Please… start there. God is not the author of confusion.

No grey area? What planet are you from, because I’m certain it can’t be the one I live on. The whole fucking world is about shades of grey, and anyone who believes differently is deluding themselves.

I’ve done the black or white thing, and it didn’t work. At all. It left too many good people doomed, and made a bunch of evil people part of God’s elect. It only worked when I stopped thinking for myself, stopped praying to God that he would show me the Truth and took man’s word and his interpretation of the Bible.

Jesus doesn’t lie, but man does and has, and even Christian men do it, and I don’t think they even realize that they got it wrong.

The black and white set are the people currently trying to destroy our world. You’ve got the somewhat minor people, like Dr. Dobson, who has become so distracted and obsessed with homosexuality and abortion that he’s forgotten all about why he started Focus on the Family, which, I believe was to help parents raise their kids in such a way that they wouldn’t grow up to become psychopaths.

Dobson has forgotten about, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or at least forgotten that some of his neighbors are gay, and he has to love them, too.

Then you’ve got our distinctly black and white president, who is bent on declaring war on every non-democracy in the world, because he’s convinced that Democracy is the only proper form of government, and he’s gonna convince other countries that it’s true by declaring war on them if they refuse to be converted.

How fucked up is that? Who knew that one day we’d have a Democracy-Nazi in office? Let’s stomp all over a country’s right to govern themselves in any way they see fit because they aren’t a FREE country. Um. Yeah.

Anyway, I’ve digressed in an attempt to show what black and white thinking leads to. The Truth is not as black and white as you think.

Some other stuff:

My faith in God is just as strong as it ever was. I don’t question his existence, but I question everything I’ve ever been told about who he is. Man is a fucked up race, and I don’t trust any of ’em to be able to know God and pass that knowledge on in a way that’s unbiased.

What I’m trying to do, is look for the deeper threads that most religions have in common, and follow those. Interestingly, a good number of them look a lot like what Jesus taught, which is the only reason I haven’t chucked Christianity altogether.

Jesus loves me, this I know. And he loves you too, even if you are confused, lack faith, or happen to be psychotic. Yup. Jesus even loves Dr. Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and our fearless leader, misguided though they are.

Jesus will love me even if I one day walk away from organized religion altogether, ’cause that’s just what he does. He’s cool like that, which is why I’ve chosen to follow him and what he taught.

Oh, and just so you know, it’s when I got on my face before God and asked him to show me the truth that all of this grey area crap got started. Before that, I was as black and white as a freaking zebra.

Figure that one out.

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One response »

  1. Wowee. Just re-read this and man, I had some issues! I’d forgotten the confusion and frustration I dealt with for so long.

    I’m amazed that God in His infinite mercy led me back to the place I needed to be. I’m a little floored by how angry I was when I wrote this. I dunno. It sounds so foreign to me to read this stuff.

    I know that my heart was truly seeking God even here, but man, I strayed far from His Truth.

    I’m not sure anymore about leaving this. The only reason I might is in the hopes that someone will stumble upon it and keep reading until the find the resolution to the agony I was in.

    ~

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