Like most Christians my age, I have stories of being wounded by the church. Of being unheard, unmet, unappreciated. I’ve been lucky enough (blessed enough?) to always have an intervention at just the right moment. A community who loved me for me or a pastor who recognized my gifts. Small groups who connected me to a larger picture.
For many of my friends and peers, that divine intervention didn’t happen and, for a variety of reasons, left the church.
I’ve often wondered what has kept me. These days, community can be found outside the walls of the church. Spirituality can be deep and profound, regardless of religion affiliation. God can be found in so many places – in nature, at dinner with friends, through solitude and quiet. Why keep the identifier of Christian, especially with such mixed meanings of the word floating around.
According to StrengthsFinder,
The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries (pg 73).
This is true. No matter how hurt I’ve been or how little I’ve trusted other Christians, at my core, my faith has remained strong. It was never a question of leaving Christ or the greater church.
Something I find interesting is how we as humans approach life’s mysteries. Some of us find the answers in our faith; others in studying science and natural law; others in an unnamable mystery of the universe. But, no matter how religious or agnostic you are, we all seek these unanswerable answers. We all wonder and look and hope to find a deeper meaning to our lives here.
I’ve never been a good evangelizer. Even at my most fundamental, I recognized the idea that the best way to share faith is by living it. I remember being embarrassed while working at a Christian camp one time, admitting that I had never “led anyone to Christ.” This admission made me feel like a failure.
I haven’t kept in touch with any of the campers I had in my care that summer, but I know that none of them went forward on the altar call night. Perhaps that week together shaped their faith – I don’t know. What I do know is that I connected with them and listen to them and played with them for a week. We built a trust and friendship for a week and that was good.
I wonder how our world would look if we held our beliefs a little looser – whatever those beliefs are. I have definitely met what my friend calls “evangelical atheists” – people who preach atheism as strongly as any revival minister. But what if we all committed to recognizing our humanness, to living our faith the best we can, and letting others see the fruits of our beliefs.
I wonder if we would get more converts? My guess is that we may have more peace.
How do you share your faith – posts on Facebook, walks in nature, quiet living, preaching from the pulpit? How do you interact with those whose beliefs are different?
This post is Day 18 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.