I was recently asked what kind of Christian I am. The person was looking for an easy label to pin on me (Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinist, etc). I get it. I’ve been called everything from a Christian Buddhist to a Christian humanist. They just want to get an idea of my theology. Though I’m not one for labels (if I were, I’d call myself post-denominational), I consider myself a simple theologian.
I’ve lost all interest in debating with folks. The devising of clever proofs, apologetics, strengthening my arguments none of it holds any interest for me. Two reasons:
- It reminds me of a typical Facebook argument and I’ve seen how often people change their minds there
- Typically these sort of debates lose sight of relationships. I’m no longer engaged with you, I’m formulating my comeback, I’m devising a better logical trap. I’m busy missing the point.
All I could see was how far I fell short, the gap between where my life was and what I know. Sunday after Sunday, attending church, those paeans of knowledge and pastoral aggrandizement, all but worshiping Scripture as part of the Godhead. I know what we’re called to be: God’s hands in this world, ambassadors of love. I know the message, the grace, the peace, the healing I’m supposed to bring. I know how far I fall short.
Faith is a journey, full of peaks and valleys. A few years ago, I was trapped in a deep valley, so dark I didn’t think I would ever see my way out. My faith as shattered and I was trying to figure out if I should try to put it back together, much less how. I kept coming back to one question (and the central failing of my life as I saw it): what does my life say about my theology?
Words are cheap. Ideas are cheap. If they have weight, it’ll impact our lives. While I was busy playing “gotcha” games with theology, it’s actions that prove the words.
““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””–Matthew 22:36-40
So I boiled down my Christianity to “love God and love one another.” So that’s pretty much all I focus on. It makes for a simpler exegesis of even troublesome passages. I interpret/filter all the parts of the Bible I don’t understand through the parts that I do.
I don’t understand much. As I understand the overarching story of the Bible, it’s one of God just saying “I know you and I love you”and pursuing a relationship with us. “I know you and I love you.” My life should be a response to that. All I know is that I want to know God and pursue a relationship with Him. I want to follow Christ, model him, and pursue relationships with others.
I could talk about the story we’re in or the holes inside of us or how we’re more than the story of our sin. Might be all right as an intellectual exercise, but in the end, it comes down to being known and being loved anyway. There’s no point in debating theology with me. No point in playing “gotcha” games with me.
I am called to love. I am called to reconcile. I am called to pursue justice. In response to that, I in turn return that love and, caught up in an overflow of that, endeavor to love others. I am into getting to know you and having conversations. I love to hear people’s stories. In practice:
-If I don’t challenge the paradigms of society, I have missed the point of my faith.
-If I don’t challenge the social constructs about me, I have missed the point of my faith.
-If I don’t challenge power dynamics, I have missed the point of my faith.
-If I don’t challenge oppressive systems, I have missed the point of my faith.
-If I don’t love you well, I have missed the point of my faith.