We started school this week and one of the things we're studying this year is Auston is taking Starting Points which is kind of the Pre Algebra of World View. It has him reading some pretty intense books, like Mere Christianity, Know What You Believe, and Know Why you Believe. The purpose of this curriculum is to get him really thinking about his faith and how that affects the way he thinks about the world and interacts with the world. It's really an intense course, and something I deeply wish I had taken when I was his age, but I wasn't afforded that opportunity. So, it got me to thinking about my own faith and what it's about. Then I was asked (In a not nice way) the other day what church I go to, and as my faith was being attacked I couldn't help but take a moment to reflect on that faith.
I believe the same things the majority of people believe, Christ is my Savior, who died for MY sins and was risen and is the LIVING God. I'm Episcopalian, in that I attend an Episcopalian church, and believe the words of my pastor, but I am CHRISTIAN first. I believe it to be of great compromise to align yourself with one denomination, when we're all Christians. And I also believe it to be a very unwise choice to follow your church leaders blindly without your own heart rooted in the Bible. Honestly, if you're not in the Bible, and I mean REALLY in the Bible, how are you going to know if you are being led astray?
I believe that Church is for the people who don't belong to a church, and it's our duty to reach out in love to those around us. Not with the sole purpose of "converting" them in mind, but with the purpose of sharing Christ's love with them whether they believe or not. Sure, growth in your church is important, but it's the hearts that God's after. If you can't capture someone's heart, they won't grow in their faith. Also, it's important to question your faith from time to time, and to stretch, because that is when the real deep down growing happens.
I believe that Churches are full of people. What do I mean by that? When that person questioned my church affiliation I felt terrible that I had failed in showing Christ's love and gentleness. But, I am reminded that just like everyone else in my church, or your church, or not currently attending a church, I am just another sinful person. Romans 3:23 says All have fallen short of the Glory of God. It doesn't say most have fallen short, or Jane, or Ted, or Bill have fallen short and we should all trample them. It says all. You. Me. Your friend. Your enemy. ALL. I read the other day a quote I like, "Quit complaining about your church..... If it were perfect they wouldn't let YOU in it either!"... So true. So true!
I believe that we are all on a journey towards God, one way or another. Sometimes people get prideful of where they are in their walk, and that very pride takes you away from God. Sometimes people hassle other Christians about what church they attend, or what denomination they affiliate with, or what other members of that denomination do or don't do/believe/say etc... We really shouldn't bicker like that, or belittle each other about trivial things, like what music we listen to in church, whether we are sprinkled or dunked, whether we have communion or don't, whether we have communion every week or less frequently, wine, grape juice, water....etc... Need I go on? REALLY, we believe that Jesus is our savior, he died, was risen, and is seated at the right had of the father, our living savior, part of the Holy Trinity. The rest just causes division among Christians, and you know what? IT DOESN'T MAKE PEOPLE WANT TO JOIN OUR CRAZINESS!!!! I found a really good article on just this topic here.
So, in short (or in long), it's a very important thing to get in a good bible study, I highly recommend Community Bible Study, because they are a inter-denominational group not sponsored by one particular church, and get rooted in what you believe. That way you can talk to others about your faith, and you can demonstrate it too.
And the next time you have a harsh thought about someone, remember they're just a sinner just like you. :)