Learning to read the Bible differently. (Or how we can find Jesus by give up the need to be correct)

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The Bible is probably one of the most misunderstood collection of writings that exists. Personally, I really struggle with it and I’m a Christian. (Yes, despite what you might think I am).

It’s been misconstrued as everything from a manual for Christians to follow (good luck following Leviticus to the t) to an outdated book that has no relevance to anyone anymore.

Everyone is striving to find the correct way to read it.

But there is no one correct way to read the Bible. How can there be with a collection of writings that consist of poetry, apocalyptic metaphors, genealities, parables, pages and pages of obscure rules about the correct way to test if your wife was unfaithful (this is literally the most mental thing I’ve read). 

To stories about a carpenter who claimed to be God’s son.

That’s even before we remember that it was written over thousands of years to completely different people by many different writers who understood the world drastically different than those who came before them.

Imagine how different we read writings from today compared to writings from relatively recently like 50 years ago.

When it comes to reading the Bible, as I said, I struggle. After a while and you’ve heard similar messages over and over for most of your life, you start to desire something deeper. You become thirsty for something new.

Some people call the Bible, “The Living word of God”.

I really like this description because for something to be living it has to be breathing and changing and  parts of it need to die so that they can regrow. You can obviously be alive but just sit at home all day. However to be fully alive you need to walk about and experience the world and suffer and find joy and hurt and cry and laugh and get lost and find a way out.

Luther understood this dramatically as he led the Reformation.

It’s when I don’t view the Bible as alive that I find it the hardest to engage with. Because as I grew and changed and understood the world differently my reading of the Bible didn’t. I continued to see it as a rule book that really had no reference to my life today.

It wasn’t however until I started to hear about practices such as Lectio Divina and read people like Rob Bell, Peter Enns and Brian McLaren that I started to see that this is much more than I could have hoped for.

It became less about something that I needed to read everyday to maintain my Christian membership but rather something that I was able to breathe.

It became a mystical collection of writings.

We start to read the stories about Jesus, less about how we are supposed to behave morally and more about how His life was so weird and countercultural and as way of opening ourselves to the world.

We start to read the Old Testament less as an illustration of a violent, angry God and more of a God who is patient and actually light years ahead of how people viewed gods.

We start to see instructions about giving away 10% of our income less as a rule and more about our faith that we are going to be ok and allowing this to change us into people characterized by generosity.

We start to read the “myths” of things that happened less as factual textbook examples and more as metaphorical descriptions of deep truths.

As Rob Bell put it in Velvet Elvis, and I’m slightly paraphrasing here, perhaps the greatest truth about Adam and Eve, is not that it happened, but that it is happening.

Now, this idea of reading the Bible this way will be majorly troubling for some. Which is ok. For others, it will be freeing and will reveal a God who is nothing like they thought.

But I have in no way nailed this thing.

I began to work through a year in the Bible reading plan in January. Sometime around the beginning of February I stopped. Why? Because I had fallen into the trap of “needing” to read it. I felt a duty to; I felt that I needed to read the whole Bible in a year to unlock the next level of being a Christian.

I was listening to those voices that told me that I was on the wrong path with my faith instead of allowing myself to try and fail. I thought I needed a map, when really all I needed was to learn to get lost a little.

But it’s for those exact reasons that I stopped. It was actually better for me to stop reading the Bible if I was just attempting to hit some standard of Holiness. If I want to start again, I need to refocus on why I am doing it. I’ll probably have to do this everyday. I’m not expecting to come away with all the answers and knowledge. If I’m being honest, I’m tired of striving for that.

I don’t need or want to be correct about what the Bible says. We all have a history and experiences in life that shape how we read the Bible. Instead of denying those things, it’s time I start embracing their impact on how I read. In some ways many of us in the Western Christian culture can never understand it since we aren’t first century Jews.

Ultimately, I don’t want to be sure I know exactly what I believe if ‘believing’ makes no difference to my experience of Jesus, Love and Hope. Especially in relation to others. I wonder if actually our striving to be completely sure what certain passages mean, prevents us from seeing something new and truly life changing. I get that. We need certainty. It’s comfortable. But comfortable doesn’t usually lead to growth.

So as I continue to try and read the Scriptures, I’m going to be wrong sometimes and I’m going to contradict myself a lot.

But you know what, that’s ok. Because I’m breathing, I’m alive and I’m still on the journey.

Just like the Bible.

I’m an immigrant (but it’s ok I’m the good kind)

I’m an immigrant.

But hold up. Before you leave this post disgusted, I’m the good type.

I’m not one of those immigrants in Calais who are trying to selfishly move to the UK so they can suck the life out of the country bringing their different skin colors and weird smells to our pale and floral smelling cities like London or Glasgow.

I moved to the USA a couple of years because I was able to and I had family and friends who helped us. I mean, we needed help because otherwise I would have had to probably limit my lukewarm chai tea latte from Starbucks to twice or heaven forfend, once a week.

Sure I moved from Belfast, where I had a great community of people around me, a job, a family who loved me, Boojum and a sense of belonging. But ever since they took Chilis away a few years ago I’ve had to wait once, (maybe twice if lucky) a year, until I visited to have a proper hot meal from a US chain restaurant.

And now Songs of Praise, a long running religious show on the BBC are offensively spending money to reporting from a migrant camp in Calais for this weekends episode. That is money that could have been much better spent on bringing back bastions of British broadcasting like Pets Win Prizes or Eldorado.

What does Christianity even have to do with people leaving oppressive living situations and traveling long distances in unbearable conditions to seek a better life anyway?

Jesus would have been ashamed to see the religion he so carefully structured around the rich, privileged and powerful reduced to reporting from this squaller. At least He had strict conditions for entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, like owning a camel. I haven’t seen one camel in the news reports from Calais and that is worrying.

And of course there will be those who claim Britain is anti immigrant and anti Christian because of all of this and especially after recent cuts to asylum support for parents with two children were announced. But we’re actually doing the Christian thing by forcing those people, oops I mean migrants, to live in even more poverty and so receive blessing from God, just like Jesus said.

Look, I’m all for helping people out a little but Jesus always made sure he kept his distance from those in need. That’s why he climbed a mountain to deliver his political manifesto the Beatitudes and another time got in a boat to preach, probably to demonstrate how cool boats were for any immigrants present who had any ideas about over staying their welcome.

And anyway, Britain has worked far too hard to make itself the country it is ever since our forefathers thousands of years before us just woke up magically one day with “British” virtues flowing through their red and blue blood. Although that’s because it’s always so bloody cold but still.

Britain is a country based on minding our own business and not getting involved in other countries affairs and now people from some of those countries, countries most of us have never been on holiday to and whom we most certainly did not have any negative influence on politically, have the cheek to take advantage of our good nature and Greggs.

Coming over here, taking our jobs that none of us really want.

How rude.

Jesus must be turning in his tomb.

Strawberries and Clooney and Vietnam

Rob Bell gets accused of not mentioning Jesus enough but there is a moment about 15 minutes into his “don’t call it a comeback” Grand Rapids show as part of his new Everything Is Spiritual tour where he mentions Jesus.

But you may have missed it. In a seemingly throw away statement it’s almost as if He didn’t want everyone to hear it. That this Jesus is somehow so much more unique, exciting and imaginative that you could even handle.

Which is one of the criticisms that Rob Bell has faced countless times. He talks about spirituality and Jesus and God and Love in ways that we don’t like. Ambiguous, mysterious but intriguing.

Where on earth could he have got such an idea for talking about spiritual matters like this?

For the rest of us, Rob Bell gets it.

In what I think is over two hours (I never once felt like checking my watch) which seems like both a long time, whilst never being boring and yet nowhere near long enough; he describes the trajectory of the world from the big bang to particles to atoms to Molecules to cells to you and me, human life.

I don’t remember science, last period on a Friday ever being so thrilling.

Even his fiercest critics have conceded that Rob Bell is a wonderful communicator and by keeping us engaged for so long on what is essentially a very basic science lesson, it’s almost as if he’s showing off.

But you’re maybe not interested in the science stuff. You want to know how he weaved Jesus, God, and the Gospel message into all of this.

He begins by linking the ever forward trajectory of existence from the big bang to the tiniest particles to complex human beings to itself. We’re all connected. In every progressive step there are characteristics of before to be found in it’s make up. The potential for all the joy, pain, awkward conversations, Taylor Swift, first time you tasted Chocolate, thrill and every other experience under the sun was present there in the beginning.

In one important analogy so desperately and currently needed, he showed us that racism is the inability to connect with someone of similar substance.

Loneliness is going in the wrong direction because it’s the antithesis of all of us being connected.

Cells, sub atomic particles, racism, loneliness. It’s all the same. We need to connect to move forward.

You want a message about the need for church to be real and authentic with the world and itself? You got it.

You want a repent message? You got it. If you’re not moving with others in the direction we need you to, you better rethink what you’re doing.

When you provide evidence from English researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson from their book “The Spirit Level” that the larger the gaps between the rich and poor in countries, the lower the literary rates, more serious mental health and the lower life expectancy not simply for the poor, but for the rich, it’s hard to not see Jesus in all of this.

Maybe Jesus isn’t explicitly mentioned as much as some of us would like, but He is there in everything tonight.

We need to be generous, peaceful, hopeful and graceful to each other. Getting more stuff, finding that individual inner peace for yourself is not enough. Connection with others is where its at.

Finally, Rob Bell takes some time to connect what all of this means practically in three areas of our lives. Our past, present and future.

There were many collective mmmm’s throughout this evening. Not the “that’s an interesting thing to know” type but that “deeply felt, everyone knows it, even if we never explicitly knew how to express it”, type of knowing. These all happened during this last phase of the night.

A beautiful example of all of this at play between hundreds of complete strangers.

This part of the evening was for me the most meaningful.

Through stories of people who experienced deep suffering finding each other by simply saying “Me Too” to hilarious stories of dealing with the fallout of his book “Love Wins” (which he describes tongue firmly in cheek as being unique in the history of published literacy since everyone loved it, even the people who didn’t read it) a few years ago, Rob Bell showed us that even when the very thing that our ego fears most happens, shame, we’re still standing.

“You’re fine, you’re good. In fact you’re great!”

This isn’t a wishy washy new age message, the Universe loves you dude message, like so many of Rob Bell’s critics have accused him of delivering before, but a hopeful, Jesus filled, Spirit filled, Gospel good news filled message that we all need to hear.

You get the feeling that through all of everything that Rob Bell is excited as ever about sharing this with people. I for one am grateful for someone who is able to communicate all of this in new, fresh ways which sends you out with a new found peace and vigor for discovering the mysterious wonder and Love of God. Rob Bell, as he reminds us tonight about human beings, is just getting started.

Farewell no more.

Rather

Welcome, Rob Bell.

Shame, Sin and The Adam and Eve Effect

There aren’t many more powerful forces in society than shame.

Shame is killing us and we don’t even realize it. Sometimes we mistake shame for guilt. We mistake the idea that doing something bad is that same as ‘being’ something bad. (Thanks Brene Brown)

Which of course is rubbish. We all do things that are bad everyday. But are we all bad deep down?

If you’re brought up with a certain faith you probably think yeah actually, we are all evil underneath and sooner or later it will show itself. The Adam and Eve effect. A mistake made a long time ago that has had devastating implications for humankind ever since. We’re all affected by it apparently. But their problem wasn’t guilt but shame. For the first time they were acutely aware of what it felt like and it sucked.

It’s a funny relationship we have with shame and sin.

We’re all sinners and have acknowledged this with a pretty amazing ease. But the minute that someone screws up we pile on a huge helping of shame. But aren’t we simply exhibiting the traits you say we have? Why make us feel ashamed for something that you continually tell us we are?

Now the traditional Christian message has a solution, as do other religions but even with this solution in action right now, we still mess up.

We’re still addicted. We’re still liars. We still kill and get greedy and you know the rest.

But maybe the solution is continually working to cure shame, not just sin. What if we let go of shame and just said no more.

Think about it. How often after you did something you didn’t really want someone like you to do did you just stop and think about what you were really thinking.

Was it guilt or was it shame?

Because if it was shame it has no use and you should let it go immediately. You’re not a bad person and I’m sorry to inform you, not all that unique. You’re not the first person to do that thing. You won’t be the last.

Sure, the religious part of you will step up and say you are just trying to get out of trouble. To skirt your responsibility. But is this really about you or about others perception of you? Do you want to look like you are sorry because you are or because this is what you think others need?

But maybe it’s time to stop worrying what others need you to show. To let go of shame. To remember who you are truly in Jesus.

And remember that if you really want to stress about whether others really think you or sorry or not, go right ahead.

Just don’t lie to yourself that they’re really any better.

Yes, The Bible Is Offensive

The old saying that the Bible is offensive is correct.

It’s offensive because some people won’t like what it says and so will fight to suppress the good news message that much of it proclaims.

It’s so offensive that many will put all their energies and strength in constricting the Hope, Love and Grace that it proclaims.

It’s offensive because they won’t like the fact that their ‘freedom’ is taken away from them because of what the words on these sacred pages seem to say. Bible

It’s offensive because it continues to break down these already crumbling walls of us and them, that these people feel safe behind.

It’s offensive to many because to them, they don’t like to be told they are wrong or that they need to repent.

It’s offensive because they think they have it all figured out while this new, revolutionary message takes everything they know and threatens it.

All this is true.

The only mistake we make is about who this group of offended people are.

They aren’t the poor or the weak. They aren’t the people who hate church. They aren’t the porn stars. They aren’t the people who have problems with organized religion. They aren’t the ones who are angry with God. They aren’t the people who like Jesus but not His followers. They aren’t the people who fight for equality for everyone.

They are me.

They perhaps, are you.

They are the church leaders who have built the Gospel into a way of controlling and maintaining the status quo.

They are the people who claim that unless you think like we do about Christianity, you are wrong.

They are the ones who are so caught up in defending the Bible that they miss that it doesn’t need defending.

They are the people who warn against picking out verses to suit your purpose, yet do the same without a sense of irony.

They are the the older brother, they are the rich young ruler, they are the poor sod who somehow got a plank stuck in his eye, they are the disciples fighting over who would be close to Jesus in Heaven.

But the Bible is indeed good news to the oppressed, poor, trafficked, marginalized, the porn star, the addict, the Muslim, the Christian, the Jewish woman, Hindu, Jedi, the family in mourning, the trafficker, the oppressor, the dictator, the racist.

People like the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector doing over his own people, the son who decides to abandon his family, the Pharisees, the Roman centurion who has a conscience, the disciple who is beginning to doubt everything, Pilate, Herod, and everyone who has ever believed that they need to earn approval, Love and acceptance.

The group that the Bible is good news for includes everyone.

And for some, that’s just too offensive to bear.

Why no one mentioned Jesus in the Asher’s Case.

When there is any debate engaged in the public sphere on the role of religion or conscience or rights there is a lot of talk of belief. How beliefs shape the way we live and act, what we think is right or wrong and how that manifests itself in how we treat each other. Yet, in the midst of all the media reporting and blogging and tweeting about the Asher’s case there has been one voice that has not been mentioned by Christians in all the furor.

Jesus.

Now before I lose you, and maybe I’ve already lost some of you, this is not an attempt to get you to believe one side over an other. This is not an attempt to bring you round to one understanding or to lay out an array of Bible verses to support or reject gay marriage. It is simply my attempt at bringing the central Christian message that Jesus came to share of Peace, understanding, Grace and Love for all people, back into focus in this conversation.

Stay with me, you may just be surprised.

Let me explain.

As a Christian my primary goal has to be to live in a way that not necessarily directly mimics the way Jesus lived but to mimic the principles that he exhibited in His interactions with normal people on His journeys prior to and also after his death. To copy a life that sought to show people what truly being alive feels like; to show how we can creatively live in ways that allow everyone to be part of something that includes but is so much bigger than themselves.

If we were to study Jesus life, we’d see that He rarely took concrete stances on issues like many of us feel is our Christian duty today. He didn’t protest, He didn’t refuse to speak with certain people, He didn’t gloat. What He did was to see what was going on above and beyond any issue and dig deep into the root of what it means to be a human with all our flaws, especially our flaws. He questioned His own religion, He remained calm when dealing with those who thought He was a threat, He got angry only with the religious. He was never defensive.

Yet why do many of us who claim to be followers of His teachings insist on maintaining such a posture?

One reason is I believe is, that Christians have allowed our beliefs to become more important than the reason for the belief. (Tweet This)

Where you stand on gay marriage determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.

Take for instance, the time when Jesus was found by the Pharisees, the religious fundamentalists of the day, to be picking grain on the Sabbath. A seemingly innocent enough activity, but one which was forbidden by the Law. The very Law that Jesus was brought up on and was the central teaching of His Jewish faith. (Yeah that’s right, Jesus wasn’t a Christian, He was Jewish). Like Jesus put to the Pharisees, what good does is it do for anyone to leave their ox stuck in a well on the Sabbath (least of all the ox, poor thing), just because you’re forbidden to do any work.

When questioned on it, Jesus made the point that the Jewish Law was made for man, not man for the Law. Simply put, these ancient rules were to bless and give life, rather than for us to blindly remain loyal and obedient to the Law.

For Jesus, beliefs were fine until they got in the way of sharing life with others. Or got an ox killed.

This means that when it comes to the Laws and ideals for us to live by as Christians, we are not called to follow them blindly if it means others are oppressed or hurt.

Put another way, Christians don’t need to protect themselves because that leaves us unable to be loving and compassionate.

Sometimes we behave as if loving others and being vulnerable is going to end up with the end of Christianity. (Sidenote, we’ve done a pretty good job at self destruction over the years and we’re still doing alright)

But what does this have to do with the Asher’s case, the broader issue of religious conscience and especially how Christians should approach these types of situations?

To answer this we must first answer a question that I was posed on Twitter several weeks ago.

Would Jesus have baked the cake? Jesus cake

Well, I’m not sure. But I do know that his reaction would have shocked and surprised us. To understand a little about how Jesus would have responded, let’s consider other instances in which Jesus used examples to show us how we are to react to those that we may fundamentally disagree with and the fears that underlie them.

An argument that I have heard throughout the Asher’s trial is that if we’re forced as Christians to support ideals and beliefs that we fundamentally disagree with, then somehow our Christian voices will be completely removed from the public sphere.

Whilst I can understand how one may come to that conclusion, like Jesus demonstrated this is a simplistic and closed view of how we are able to influence our communities for Him.

In one famous illustration, Jesus commanded his listeners to not just carry a Roman soldier’s bags one mile, which was well in the right of the Roman soldier to demand, but to walk a further mile. Something that would have made the soldier a very naughty boy (Well done if you get this reference).

What Jesus was doing here was showing another way of reacting to someone rather than being defensive. We could very easily read this as Jesus demonstrating total and complete agreement with the way the Romans ruled the country since He was willing to go further than He was required. Yet, Jesus suggestion of walking the extra mile did not mean that He was asking His listeners to simply bow down and lay down their beliefs and morals, but like we have already seen, as a way of showing that we don’t need to fight for our beliefs.

Our beliefs aren’t what change the world, it’s our actions that do the talking. (Tweet This).

Unfortunately because of the Asher’s case, many outside the church, LGBT or otherwise will know exactly where many Christians stand on homosexuality but will not have witnessed very much of the love we’re called to show to the world.

Jesus example of the Roman soldier shows us that even if we are forced to work and serve (or bake a cake) for those who we completely disagree with, there is a more imaginative and creative way of reacting.

In this case I think that Asher’s had a wonderful opportunity to do just that. But I don’t blame them for not taking it. We’re just not used to this type of thinking in the church. We are afraid of thinking outside the box, or loving others in surprising ways.

We’re so consumed with what we believe about something and making sure that that isn’t compromised that we fail to see that all that demanding our rights to be heard and obeyed leads to, is our love for others being compromised.

Another fear is that a defeat for Asher’s will open up a whole can of worms which would allow those who are intent on causing trouble to demand services from others, simply to cause them pain. Even if this would be true, there is one example from Jesus life that shows what a wonderful opportunity this would be to bring healing.

Along with the previous example of carrying a Roman Soldier’s bags two miles instead of one, Jesus, shockingly and puzzlingly suggested allowing someone to hit you twice. You know, because there’s nothing worse than having just one side of your face in pain.

This has often been taken to mean that as Christians we are to let people walk over us in this world as if God is biding His time and in the end will smite our enemies for being a dick towards us. But this isn’t the Old Testament we’re living in.

What Jesus is doing here, is cleverly showing us that by allowing someone to hit us twice we can ultimately alter perceptions of hate into Peace. One slap to the face, using the outside of the hand signified a stance of control over you. Effectively showing the person being hit who exactly is in charge. But rather than offering the other side of your face as a way of cementing that control, it would be essentially forcing your oppressor to punch you. A significant move, only when we understand that for Jesus listeners, they knew this meant that you were equals. As you only reserved using the inside of your hand to hit someone on a par with you.

So what does this have to do with Asher’s. If we have a cream pie jammed into the side of our face, turn your cheek for a banoffee?

Like carrying bags for a Roman soldier, it means there are more imaginative ways to deal with those who we feel, whether it’s true or not, are persecuting us.

Jesus had so many opportunities to turn down his Love for those that stood fundamentally against the faith He grew up with. He had dinner with Zacchaeus, a tax collector which was the worst type of job for a Jew, as it meant cheating your own people out of money for “the man.” He gave a woman caught in adultery, something that demanded by Law for her life to be taken, freedom and hope. He promised a Samaritan (big enemies of the religious establishment) woman, everlasting life. He healed the daughter of a soldier of the oppressive Roman government.

What religious stance He was “supposed” to take in regards to Samaritans or people who slept with others spouses or Israel’s enemies, wasn’t Jesus chief motivation for His actions towards them. That’s why He was such a threat to the religious; He didn’t act the way He was “supposed” to. He saw the bigger picture.

The way he acted towards these people went against everything He was supposed to believe in. But ultimately the most important belief for him was Love.

And Jesus saw something else equally important. He saw that we’re all really the same. Jewish, Roman, Protestant, Catholic, straight, gay, not sure, male, female, baker, candlestick maker.

Whatever the final verdict from the Asher’s case, there is no winner. The lines are wonderfully and fantastically blurred. We’ve had quite enough of that in Northern Ireland. This is not an Us V Them case.

And this is exactly what ties all the examples from Jesus life that I have used together. Jesus, time and time again with subtle, creative, beautiful ways, broke down this decisive and dangerous idea of Us and Them. He blew open the expectations of what it means to be His follower. And what it meant to be for someone to be your “enemy”.

God is not on the side of Ashers. God is not on the side of the LGBTQ community. God is on the side of all. (Tweet This).

He doesn’t operate in the ways in which we have regularly and aimlessly fought to protect.

It is time for Christians to really stand up for what we believe in.

But that is not what we believe about homosexuality. But Love and Hope and acceptance.

For all.

The Prodigal Son. A story of just one brother.

Yesterday I listened to Rob Bell’s podcast on the Prodigal Son. It’s a story that continues to make sense on so many levels. A story that we spend time trying to figure out whether its true or not that we miss the real truth in it.

That everything I can have from God is already mine is a truth that I will never need to stop hearing. I read and remember. I work, I go to the gym, I eat dinner with my wife, we go for a walk, we talk. I experience it fully, life that is, then I go to sleep.

And in that hazy awakening the next morning, I have all but forgotten. I forgot the gifts that I had bestowed on me and need another reminder to get me through the day.

I don’t need to be told to change. I don’t need to be made to feel guilty about my actions. I know. I know.

But I do need to be reminded of who I am. Loved, accepted, redeemed, chosen. That can not be taken from me. I am the prodigal son returning home knowing I’ll be lucky to even get close to the door. Then I am surprised that the door was already wide open with a banner bestowing my name hung since the day I left.

Later today, I will be the older brother.

Because you see, this story is not about two different brothers. One, a prideful brother who destroys his family out of greed and selfishness only to regret his actions and come back with his tail between his legs. The other, the real villain of the piece. Someone who is quick to judge and can’t forgive.

He stayed after all, he was loyal, so why do we hate him so much?

The truth is much closer than we think.

No, this is not a story about two brothers but a story about one brother. Because let’s face it, who among us has regretted their actions, made amends, seeked reconciliation, received forgiveness and then immediately gone back to repeat the same cycle again and again.

By separating the two brothers into separate identities is to miss an important part of the story. Both brothers lie deep within us.

We often make the older brother out to be the bad guy but the younger brother had exactly the same belief about his father as the older brother. For both, they thought that the harder they worked or the more loyal they were, would decide their sonship. That’s why the younger brother felt so guilty coming home after all; he knew he hadn’t lived up to his side of the bargain.

But both would be shocked. Both would have to think again what it meant to be a son. They were sons because they just were.

Sometimes when I think about what it means to be a Christian I get it completely. I feel at peace and I’m not trying to posture myself to others or God through this blog, through what I say, do or think. My actions don’t come from a feeling of obligation but out of this sense that I am all I am created to be.

There is no greater peace than this.

Other times though, I think I need to believe a certain way or belong to an established church or just lump it and enjoy worship music or not think differently or have a very clear set of disciplines that I never sway from. These are the times when I am most anxious. These are the times when I query whether I am doing enough, loving enough, important enough, doing the “right” things.

My actions are rarely of someone at peace when this happens.

The church has a great reputation for making things black and white. We act sometimes as if we have it all figured out and there are those who are very much wrong and dangerous but if you think the way we do, then you’re ok. Otherwise, best prepare yourself for a hot vacation which never ends.

But this is the older brother part of us vying for attention. He thought he knew how his Father operated until something happened which shocked him to his core and challenged every belief about himself he had ever held.

We do the same. We think we know how God works, what kinds of people God wants us to be, what kinds of people we are supposed to associate with, what kind of movies or music we should engage with. We don’t want to challenge the status quo because we think God is the status quo.

But God is anything but. God doesn’t adhere to our beliefs about Him. We should shape our beliefs to who He is. (Share This)

The calling we have is to find a sense of peace in the Love that is ours simply because God loves us. Then out of this we are more capable to invite people into that life, that justice, that peace, that truly being alive feeling when we stop trying to fight for our faith.

We don’t work now to get to Heaven. We recognize that Heaven is already here. (Share this)

And that’s when we begin to take our first steps home.

Why abandoning your beliefs may help you be a better Christian.

Beliefs are an important part of being alive. They have the potential to create Peace, Hope and Grace. They are what persuade millions of people to live their lives in ways that bless other people here and now. They are what convict us that there is something bigger to live for than ourselves.

Yet, they can also cause great pain and hurt. They can lead us to judge others who are different to us. They can create wars. They can cause people to hate themselves. They imprison, they condemn and they bring division.

So are beliefs that important? Or could they be more trouble than they’re worth? Continue reading