I suppose, after writing books and blogs and other such things for over five years now, it shouldn’t surprise me the power of words.
But it does.
It shouldn’t surprise me, with “fake news”, alternative facts, and both the love and vitriol spread wide across social media, the influence—intentional and not—that our words can have.
But it does.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this was one of the main reasons I hesitated to say anything amongst all the storm and rage of this past political and politically religious season. First, because I wasn’t sure what to say, And second, I wasn’t sure, even if I did speak up, how it would be received. And yes, it got to the point where I had written my “last” Spiritual Drift post (which I’ve obviously reconsidered), and closed up shop on my personal Facebook page.
It was only when I did those things, closing the door on the blog, pulling the plug on social media, that I found my voice, and more importantly, found the resolve, to say something, to say anything.
Both the voice and resolve came from this…
Not “their” hypocrisy, mine, as I said in “A Christian Without a Religion”:
It’s not them, it’s me. My own hypocrisy is in continuing to sit there. Numb. Dumb. Mute. Confused and angered. Unable or unwilling (fearful actually) to speak out. Because apparently I’m the weird one.
The hypocrisy I felt was in my silent assent to all that was going on around me. I may not have been agreeing with what was happening, what was being said, what was being done, who it was being done to, and why, but in my silence it gave the appearance that I was.
I was agreeing.
I was complicit.
I was approving, conforming, like-minded.
This wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t true.
And once again I was struck by the power of words. And the hidden power of not saying them. The realization shouldn’t have surprised me.
But it did.
So I’m beginning to speak out.
First though, I wanted to thank everyone who commented or private messaged me with their words of encouragement. That meant, and continues to mean, a lot.
Secondly, I want to say that I am not leaving the church or my faith as some were fearful I might have decided.
Yes, I’m done with “religion”. But this is one of the most freeing decisions anyone of faith can ultimately make. At least in my mind.
I’m not following a pastor.
I’m not following a church.
I’m not following a doctrine.
I’ve chosen to follow the Way of a brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee.
And let me clarify something else. If the Spirit does move me to leave a particular church, or pastor, or doctrine, it is not, nor will it ever be, out of anger, frustration, or selfish motives (“I’m not getting fed”, “I don’t like the music/message/coffee creamer/carpet color.”)
I also won’t stand to be accused of “church hopping”, as I have heard time and time again from the pulpit.
Over the last twenty years, my wife and I have attended three different churches; each move facilitated by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Literally, it was time to move on, and God made that abundantly clear. And, if that time comes again, I will listen and obey.
Hear me on this: I love the people of my life/home group. I have made some cherished friendships within the church.
And yet these were also factors that weighed heavily on why I was fearful to speak out. Why I sat in my hypocrisy for so long.
I didn’t want to rock the boat.
It is only recently that I figured out that I am not, in fact, rocking the boat. I’m stepping out onto the water; mindful of the waves, mindful of the storm, but keeping my eyes affixed on the brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee in whom I’ve placed my trust.
It reminds me of the words of Frederick Buechner:
To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed. –From “The Sacred Journey”
And those of John Eldredge:
The reason we fear to step out is because we know that it might not go well. We have a history of wounds screaming at us to play it safe. We feel so deeply that if it doesn’t go well, if we are not received well, the reaction becomes the verdict on our lives, on our very beings, on our hearts. We fear that our deepest doubts about ourselves will be confirmed. Again. That we will hear yet again the message of our wounds, the piercing negative answers to our Questions. That is why we can only risk stepping out when we are resting in the love of God. –From “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge (emphasis mine).
That is why it’s been hard to sit quietly in church as a pastor mocks those who feel the gospel is “all about luuuuv, luuuuv, luuuv” with hands placed gingerly on swaying hips as scorn lines his face.
Umm, he’s talking about me.
Because, umm, it is all about love.
God is love. (1John 4:8)
God is in Christ. (John 17:23)
And Christ is in me. (Col 1:27, 2Cor 13:5, Gal 2:20, to name but a few)
Therefore, if I am in Christ and He is in me and God is in Him, I am love.
I am resting in that. Almost like it’s a peace that passes understanding.
You see, a one-way ticket to heaven is the by-product of why I believe, not the sole reason. My faith is manifest in how I choose to live my life here and now. Eternity doesn’t begin “some fine day, when this life is o’er”. It has already begun. It has always been.
I am an eternal being.
I am in an eternal being, and He is in me.
I am luuuv! Proudly!