I’ve spent the last week on vacation and I’ll get to that later this week- but first, here’s what I wrote while on the road–
My last post, on feeling like a ‘bad Christian,’ was really difficult for me to write. It took four days of thinking before I thought it reflected what was on my heart. A big part of me wanted to abandon the post altogether, but I felt completely blocked to put anything else up on this blog until that post was written.
Once it was out there for everyone to see, your comments made it worth all of the effort and anxiety. I loved reading what you had to say — even the ones who disagreed with me. I knew when I wrote it that some would not approve, probably many more than those brave enough to state it in the comments.
What prompted the post, I think, was that we recently switched from a hip, modern mega church to a small, traditional neighborhood church. We love it– The kids actually beg to go each week, and Dennis and I like being part of a church where the members all know each other and spend a lot of time together.
But I realized as we were getting to know everyone in our new church that I was feeling a crazy amount of anxiety over forming those relationships. Based on past experience, I was bracing myself for a rush of kindness that would be followed by silent rejection after people really got to know me- or, more specifically, after they found my blog. I guess I figured it was better to go ahead and be up front about how I am, right from the start. I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to be honest. I’m inevitably going to ruffle some feathers along the way. I’m not always going to agree with you, but I promise I’ll try be polite about it.
Most of you understood in the last post that I’m not saying I don’t need to strive to follow Christ every single day. I am continually trying to discern God’s will for my life, and to live according to the principles laid out by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This is a very personal thing for me, so I don’t write about it often on my blog– but it is an absolute constant in my life.
That said, I honestly don’t think that the angels weep every time a curse word comes out of my mouth. I don’t think God is upset with me over an obviously humorous blog banner that has the word ‘ass’ in it. I don’t worry, as one commenter warned, that it may have caused someone to stumble in her ‘Christian walk.’ I tried to picture how that would ever happen and couldn’t stop giggling- I’m just not buying it.
And yet, several Christians have written since last week’s post to tell me exactly why THEY would NEVER have used that header. Well, I love you all, I really do, but here’s the deal: When it comes to my spiritual life, I want to please God, NOT other people.
It’s another ridiculously simple statement, yet I’ve been caught up in doing the opposite for years. And I suspect I’m not alone here. I actually don’t believe that God sees me as a bad Christian. I don’t think he’s marking down my slip-ups in a gigantic Book of Life– I think he’s looking at my heart. So it’s frustrating to continually hear from other Christians who feel the need to tell me I’m DOING IT WRONG. Something’s messed up with that, don’t you think?
I have asked God many times over the years why he made me this way- why it’s so hard for me to fit in to traditional Christian culture without bucking and kicking the whole way. I have taken inspiration from the Bible- In so many cases, God used the most unlikely people to make a point, and that hits home with me. I may see perfection everywhere I turn when I’m among other Christians, but in the Bible that’s hardly the case. I think there’s a reason so many of the Bible’s greatest heroes seemed like wildly inappropriate messengers of God’s word- I figure God’s making a point in the Bible that He can use even me. And even you. He’s not looking for perfection. He’s looking for potential. And potential?
I’ve got that.
‘Does professing to feel like you are part of a club called “Bad Christian Club” do anything to further God’s kingdom?’ one commenter asked. To that, I say… Maybe.
Maybe—just maybe– God can use me to reach people that the traditional Christian community just isn’t appealing to these days. Maybe it’s okay for me and for you to question the direction and motivation of Christianity today- a religion that often leaves me feeling bad about myself and unworthy, even though the Bible never does. Maybe if enough Christians talk with each other about how they really feel, we’ll start to see real change in the church and the community. Maybe if you see a change in me over the years on this blog, you will know that it is real heart change- not superficial, trying-to-fit-in-with-other-Christians change.
And maybe that will mean something to you.
I know I’ve written variations on this theme over the years, but I need to keep coming back to it. I need to remind myself of why I’m here and what I’m doing and what I SHOULD be doing. And I need to make it public, in order to hold myself accountable.
Thanks for letting me do that, and for being part of the conversation.
Image via SubtlePanda/Flickr