I believe in God.
That statement will turn you off, intrigue you or make you feel indifferent.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of opinion pieces on what a turn off it is for some people to read that statement. Followed with comparisons of believing in God to believing in Santa; wondering where God is when horrible things happen; assuming that people believe in God for the ‘comfort’.
All of these generalizations make me think two things. One, Christianity is misunderstood to be rigid religion of rules; really it is first and foremost about a relationship with God. Two, Christianity is everyone’s favourite religion to flush down the toilet. Which is easy to do when there are so many extreme sects claiming to be based on the bible, splattering their skewed ideologies onto the title of Christianity.
I can’t defend all the aspect of my belief system in a simple post. Maybe I can address some of the main points I see being made in the ‘anti-Christian’ posts.
Believing in God is not about having a trouble-free and safe life. God always calls us to do difficult things that are completely out of our comfort zone. From something as simple as singing on stage, to loving someone who seems unlovable, to starting a business, to moving our entire family across the country, to leaving a relationship, to walking up to a stranger and offering them friendship, to leaving a career. In the stillness of our hearts we can hear these callings and they are usually scary and wild and against our instincts, therefore we tell ourselves it’s not from God. We like to put God in a fenced off yard where he only keeps us safe, well hydrated and lounging in a cushy hammock. But really, the things we are called to do come with no guarantees, no safety net, no finish line with a cozy retirement fund and sundrenched buffets. Having faith in all this uncertainty is not intuitive. We want to protect ourselves, our routines, our happy mediums.
Believing in God is does not make me think I am a perfect person. God is constantly showing me areas of my life where I am weak, I am petty, I am unforgiving, I am judgmental. It is humbling, but it is a mirror showing me how to be a better partner, mother, sister, friend. Because God loves imperfect. He will fill in all the gaps with His Grace and we become stronger in areas we are weak.
Believing in God does not mean we have to be the same. There is no ‘Christian Cookie Cutter’. All ‘Christian women’ don’t have to be housewives homeschooling five kids, plaiting homemade bread and singing in church on Sundays. If you do that, great for you, I salute your ovaries and baking skills. God made us all different with unique talents, views and skills. We should swan dive into a pool of differences. Let ourselves be unique and stick out and make mistakes and look stupid from time to time. We should surround ourself with variety in the people we love and how we love. If we don’t, we are fuelling our life on only one single food, all day every day.
Believing in God is not akin to believing in fairies and pixie dust. It’s true I can’t see a physical God in front of me, but I can feel Him, hear Him, and see Him in your circumstances. I couldn’t word it any better than CS Lewis: “‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”. Yet, there are also times God is quiet. He is still. These are times I am angry with God, confused by Him, yelling at Him. I’ve struggled for years trying to ‘hear’ God but He doesn’t always ‘speak’, rather sometimes He ‘does’. He is a God of action, even unexpected actions that I disagree with, but can look back on and understand why He ushered me toward the hard path.
Hand in hand with this is the misconception that Christians believe this world is like Heaven. There is this notion that if we believe in God we have this ‘protection’ from all evil and peril. This is an entitling stance that allows us to blame God, or our being ‘ungodly’, for bad things happening and praise ourselves for the good. I can’t do this justice in a few sentences but being a Christian doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to us. It also doesn’t mean we are ‘bad people’ if they do. This world is a fallen world; we all have free will to make our own decisions. God isn’t controlling us like puppets. He is walking along with us, constantly trying to make our circumstances work for good, constantly trying to strengthen us, to use us to help each other.
I could go on and on yet. Tell you things like, I believe God made each one of us for a wonderful purpose, and He doesn’t want us to be ‘perfect’, God loves imperfect (the bible is full of God using imperfect people to do great things). I believe that Jesus gave his life for each and every one of us and that we are loved by him no matter what.
I believe that being a Christian is not about following a list of rules and dramatically preaching to the public but it is at the core, about having a relationship with God.
I also believe that God is not comfortable, but where there is discomfort I have hope in Him. God is not safe, but where there is uncertainty we must rely on trust and faith. My life is not easier because I believe in God, but even in pain and desperation, there is always patient and steadfast love.
For more on this topic, I recommend reading “Your God is Too Safe” by Mark Buchanan