Chasing Contentment

Tuesday, May 10

We live in the Deep South where we are coddled by the fact that rarely is one asked, 'Are you a Christian,' and often one is asked, 'Where do you go to church?' Here, church attendance is a given, something we assume about one another without reservation. Accepting Christ and being baptized (or recognized, depending upon the church) is a rite of passage, something we accept will happen. The question seems to be the timing not the action itself.

We are privileged to live here, to be ensconced in a world where God is spoken of routinely in all manner of places. Ministers are still invited to pray over the loudspeaker before Friday night football games. School children have Easter parties in school. Through the summer, Vacation Bible School signs are as common in front lawns as wildflowers.

My children are blessed to live where their Christianity will be encouraged and supported as a wonderful thing, not where they might be ridiculed or persecuted because of their belief in our glorious Lord. My daughter's daycare workers sing "Jesus Loves Me" as easily as other toddler songs, and my son's former karate sensai told Bible stories about Biblical figures with the same names as students in his class.

We do not face the difficulties of living in a land where Christians are few and far between, where we must struggle against incorrect perceptions of Christians or of Christ himself.

But even here - maybe most distressingly here - there are difficulties. Rather than heated discussions between Christians and non, we argue most amongst ourselves. It is as if there aren't enough non-believers here (which cannot possibly be true!) for us to convert to the wonder of God and His love, and so we set ourselves about the business of converting one another.

We decide that our specific set of beliefs must be correct, and thus, others must be wrong, and so we go about showing everyone their wrongness and our rightness. Being a Christian isn't always enough here. You have to be the right kind of Christian. You have to worship the right way and do the right thing in the right time. There's so much right that's demanded of us, that it's hard to imagine how any of us could live up to it.

Of course, God's grace is what lives up to it all, of course, the right and the wrong, the good and the bad. But it seems like so many of us, in the midst of being so sure that we've got the right answers and that it's our directive from God to share those answers with folks who've, unfortunately, gotten the wrong ones, that we forget God's grace. We forget that we were given it, and we forget that He extends it to so many more than just us.

And I find myself thinking about this more and more these days, yearning to be sure that people don't see me as that kind of Christian. I want people to see that I'm weak and I'm stumbling and I'm crazy and I'm alone and I'm hurting and I'm needy. And I want them to see that I'm trying really hard to be joyful in all of that because God loves me enough to love me now, with all of these less than right qualities to my person and my life.

And I want people to see that my faith is in my Lord, for my family, my future, my fears, and my fabulous dreams. I want people to see me accepting them on their own terms, where they are now, just as I believe Christ does with us every day.

I'm quite sure there are those who would say I am too tolerant a Christian, that there are things I should take a harder stand on, people I shouldn't be friends with any longer. I think sometimes that intolerance breeds tolerance, odd though that sounds. I think that, as I'm faced with people thinking they have all of the answers, I am more convinced than ever that I don't. But I am so comfortable in the knowledge that I do know the One who has all the answers. And that gives me a peace that overshadows the questions.

He knows. And He loves me. And He IS. And for me, that is enough.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, May 10, 2005  ]


What a wonderful insight into our focus as Christians! Why is it that we put out more effort to argue more with ourselves than put out the effort to win non-Christians over? I admire your outlook and attitude about being a Christian and being used by God. I know God is seen in your life daily!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:21 PM  

I love this! Thanks for sharing.

By Blogger Jana, at 5:00 AM  

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