It’s no real secret if you read with any regularity where I stand with regards to my faith. Anyone that has been around the blog for a while can see a common thread. If you go back a bit you may even be able to see where things started to change. I have given disclaimers on several occasions so that everyone would understand that I am not running from God, or forgetting my faith. I am sure there are some that would question my motives, my understanding of being a Christ follower, and even the depth of my faith and if I even have the same relationship with God that I had back when they knew me.
Time to answer that one. Nope I sure don’t . My faith has changed. My understanding of scripture has been and continues to evolve, the deeper I dig, the more I study, the time spent doing word study and really thinking about and taking context and history into account the more my idea of being a Christ follower morphs. My understanding of what matters to Christ, and what matters to denominations or movements has changed.
In 1517 Luther published his 95 Theses challenging the then current religious absolutes. Questioning doctrines, calling to account abuse by those in power in the church. Raising a voice against a form of Christianity that had strayed from the purpose of the Gospel.
I am convinced that the following statement could be applied to many leaders in the church today…
33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s (George Wood, The Counsel of Bishops of the Methodist Church, Rev. Ronnie Floyd, Rev. Matthew Harrison, the list could go on and include any number of religious leaders who are in the public eye.) pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
I fear this is where may Christians are today. They have forgotten that we are not supposed to look to a man or woman or denomination for absolution. Humanity as a whole is flawed, we are broken and don’t really have the answers that we like to claim we have. On any given Sunday you can find a pastor in a church somewhere that will validate whatever world view you have. It’s easy to find a church that wants to play the martyr, claiming that they are persecuted that they alone stand in the gap and that they alone understand what it means to suffer for Christ. It’s equally easy to find a church that has given up on the idea of salvation through faith in Christ because it’s not really popular to tell people that they are incomplete without a relationship with the one who created humanity in the first place. These churches tend to soft peddle on the idea of the fall of man because it may offend some people.
Paul talked about being all things to all people, a concept that is abused on a daily basis by some who use it as an excuse to indulge in things that they would normally question. Still others talk about the importance of taking a hard stance on sin, of course the sins covered under that stance very depending on the person in charge, and I would argue the sins that they may or my not have to deal with in their own life. It’s easy to come out against murder when you don’t deal with that particular issue, harder to take a stand against gluttony when the point of Sunday morning service is to find out who you’re going to over eat lunch with. Apply this concept to any of the lists of iniquity found in scripture. Laziness is intolerable, gossip is okay as long as it happens in the context of sharing for the purpose of helping or remembering the individual in prayer… You catch my drift.
My faith is not the same, because if it were then I would not be working on my own salvation with awe and reverence. I instead would be happy to revel in my own ideas of what Salvation, love and service to others and God meant. The problem that I see with that is that I have done the same thing that the Pope did back in Luther’s day. I have become the one that dishes out forgiveness, or discipline both to myself and the people I pastor. Sure I can couch it in the right rhetoric, I can talk about how important it is to not compromise my faith, but is attempting to be more like Christ, to walk in his steps, to love the way he did, and even at times look at myself and other church leaders with the same eye he did and in loving anger call them and myself on it, because hopefully when that happens eyes are opened compromising the faith that God calls me to or is it compromising human expectations of what true faith is?
Being a Christ follower is more important to me than being a Christian. Becoming more like the man that died for me, that rose for me, and that has promised to return for me, is the goal, not fitting the picture of what a good christian is supposed to be.
Safe to say I have moved on in my faith, and I hope and pray I keep moving on, going further up and further in to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite authors. As far as I can figure that’s what we are all supposed to be doing. Luther called the leaders of his day to account, hundreds of years later the vast majority of Christian leaders look at this as a good thing, but at the time his actions touched off controversy, and some even say war. I fear that we are at a crossroads, actually I fear that we have long passed the crossroads, I see the spirit of Luther in some today, be it Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Jeff Hood, Andy Stanley, Carey Nieuwhof, or Perry Noble. These men are pushing at the edges of what it means to be a Christ Follower, I find myself doing the same thing. I’m okay with that…I hope and pray that you my readers are as well. It’s time for all of us to move on when it comes to our faith. And then when we learn what He is trying to teach us. move on again.