It’s frustrating to be a Christian in the world and society we live in. To have my faith when science attacks it. To believe in God when rationality laughs at Him. To share my religion when I struggle with my own skepticism.
Sometimes it’s easier just to ignore the whole thing, to downplay our beliefs so we don’t come across as being “too Christian.”
So we try to blend into a society that has already disowned us. They see no need for our Christ, our Bible, our God. They don’t want grace or salvation. They don’t see the necessity of it. They pity us for seeking it out. They look down on us for believing in a god that can possibly exist in a world obviously ruled by science. They laugh at us, condescend to us, ignore us.
Yet we crave to be let in. We want to be a part of it. We don’t like be the unpopular kid on the outside looking in. We don’t like being left out of the jokes, trends, and fashions because it doesn’t match up with our Christian faith and lifestyle. We want to fit in.
So we begin to compromise. We convince ourselves that maybe this part of religion isn’t necessary. We tell ourselves that Jesus didn’t preach on it, so maybe it’s okay. We tell ourselves it’s not a salvation issue, so perhaps it’s fine. We say that our relationship with God is personal, that it’s about faith not works, so what I do isn’t as important as what I believe in my heart, mind, and soul.
Everyone wears their spirituality and Christianity differently. It’s like one of those scarves you can wear ten different ways. None of those ways is wrong, but each way presents the scarf differently to those who see it. Some wear the scarf a bit more sedately. Others wear it a bit more flamboyantly, but the scarf is still the scarf. What is ridiculous is when we crumple the scarf up and shove it in our purse.
Sometimes I thinks it’s easier to crumple up my spirituality and just not deal with it. It challenges me in ways that are often and uncomfortable and leaves me more skeptical than when I started. It’s like an episode of Lost- you sit there for forty minutes, totally engrossed, but you just end up having more questions than when you began. Eventually, after enough episodes, you wonder if it’s even worth it.
I spent four months in the Middle East. The one thing I will always remember about living in Cairo is hearing the Muslim Call to Prayer. Five times every day, Muslims are told to pray before Allah. Five times a day, the Call to Prayer is announced over a loud speaker from the mosque in the area.
The first time I heard this, it scared me to death. So loud and insistent. And in Arabic, which I could never master. The second time, it was expected. The third time, I didn’t quite notice. It blended into the background noise.
One evening, a couple of the girls I lived with and I went to a gorgeous park in Cairo. We went to the highest hill and took in the city as the sun began setting. And then we heard it, the Call to Prayer, ringing from every mosque in the city. In unison, Cairo began to pray to Allah. They sang praises to him, worshipped him, thanked him. They paused and acknowledged him.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes you question your dedication to your faith, beliefs, and religion more than listening to an entire city pausing to pray. I can’t be bothered to pray once let alone five times some days. I see my spirituality, my religion as an inconvenience. Perhaps, I don’t deserve it.
I read the book of James this morning. It’s the book I always read when I’m feeling a tad skeptical and confused. Every time, it convicts me. I read through it and feel as if God gave it to me especially, knowing I would have doubts and need something to talk me down.
He’s pretty no nonsense, James. Tells it like it is.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
James 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 4:4 You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:15-16 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Reading James tears apart my world, but gives me the the tools to put it back together again. Reading James tells me that, no you can’t be too Christian, but apparently you can be not Christian enough. Reading James is frustrating and upsetting, and leaves me sitting there, staring into space as I try to figure out how I can live in this world, operate and witness in this world without letting the world leave it’s mark on me.
So maybe the question shouldn’t be “can you be too Christian?” It’s not really a fair question. Because when I look at someone and think to myself, “Wow, could you be any more obvious about your Christianity?” it’s only to justify the inadequacies in my own walk with God. It isn’t because I feel they are being too pushy about their faith, but because it makes me recognize how little I seem to care about my own. And maybe, in some ways, I envy their faith. I see Christians who just seem to get it, and I look at myself and can’t understand why I don’t.
And I know it’s not fair to assume they never struggle or have doubts. Everyone does. That’s the nature of being human. But sometimes I just wish that I could struggle a little less, doubt a little less, and maybe not be so skeptical.
My frustration, my skepticism, my doubts weren’t given to me as a punishment. And maybe as time goes on, they will dim and make way for the type of faith I’m able to grow into. For now, I’m learning how to wear them. I’m learning how to be a skeptical Christian who believes in a loving God in a society that thinks I’m crazy. I’m learning how to be a Christian who doesn’t blend in, but still lives in a world that God created full of people that He loves unconditionally.
Because honestly, I would rather someone look at me and recognize that I’m a believer in God and a follower of Christ, than having someone look at me and not see my faith in the way I live. I think I would rather be too Christian than not enough. I would rather be all in, every part of me ready to glorify Him, than to wander about in this world aimless and lukewarm, denying myself and the God who created me.
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