ahg. ahg. ahg.
i want to talk about how the church is generally perceived by the thinkers of my generation and when i start to ponder it, ahg is the first and the second thing that comes to mind.
it's hard because i know that the church has within it many loving, open-minded, compassionate, and communicative people. why doesn't everyone else know that?
i have a theory. well, a theory that is made up of a bulleted list. i love bulleted lists.
- no one wants to talk about religion--it's pretty much understood that christians have some sort of handicap that prevents them from seeing that what they say they believe can't possibly be true. and so many christians live in this strange state of wanting badly to talk about our faith with people with whom we have any sort of relationship, but at the same time being paralyzed by a fear that we might, in the minds of those around us, join the crazy ranks. and there's little worse than joining the crazy ranks. we work hard for credibility and, whether it's fair or not, we risk losing it when we talk about Jesus.
- something worse than joining the crazy ranks is joining the crazy and assaulting ranks. "assaulting" isn't quite as fun a word as "crazy," but i can't figure out how else to describe the manner in which some past, present, and unfortunately future christians (individually, or as a church) try to communicate their faith. regardless of who i am, when i start to talk to someone about my faith, i'm continuing a conversation that that person has already been having with any other "religious" person/institution in their life. this is particularly difficult here in the south as these conversations have often been long and damaging - assaulting. it's almost like if i had an identical twin who murdered someone. i would spend my whole life trying to convince people that i was trustworthy and maybe never really succeed. i might just want to hide in my room, only speaking to people who already knew me - to whom i didn't have to explain myself. that's a very tempting option for christians - hide in the church where no one will challenge.
- this is kind of an extension of the previous point: because one of the biggest complaints that people have against christians is that they talk too much and listen too little, it becomes difficult to talk. but how will people know that we're different, if we don't talk? but how can we talk without making the same mistakes all over again? not without difficulty.
it's risky and difficult. we might say the wrong thing. people may not understand. they may say hurtful things. they don't mean to be hurtful. like i said: not without difficulty.
but it's worth it, right?
isn't it worth it? to let the world know that christians are really just people (regular ol' people) who follow Jesus, someone who, if you read about it, came to love, heal, teach, and to give us a chance at reconciliation. how we turned that into something crazy and assaulting is a mystery but hopefully we can make amends - convince people that we, though not perfect, are not our murdering twin.