All my life I’ve lived within the Christian community, which really says a lot of what I want to say here.
It also says something about me.
I’m not characterised as assertive, aggressive, adventurous or rebellious, traits which have certainly held and attracted a lot of people who go under the Christian banner. Loud and aggressive Christians also make life hard for people like me and I suspect many other Christians also.
To put this more a bit more positively, by nature I’m fairly kind, compassionate, faithful and trusting. These traits have made it easier to stay with my parents’ faith and values and those of the Christian communities to which I’ve belonged during my life – despite some inevitable bumps.
My Christian faith says something about my life story.
My journey has been quite kind to me – so why should I jump ship faith and values wise? From a stable home into a stable marriage, four great kids who all married well and chose to stay Christians, lifelong work in different churches, work that was fulfilling and helped me stay close to my faith and values… what more could anyone ask for? Some might say, “how about a bit of fire, excitement and independence?”
So, mebbee I’m boring, nice but nerdy? That’s part of me. Please read on.
I have two sisters who grew up as I did, embracing the Christian way in which we all grew up and owning it for 25 or more years, and committing themselves to partners and service. But the men who seriously joined them had some serious issues and my sisters and the Christian communities they belonged to were not up to the wisdom and care that were needed to keep things tolerable when the wheels fell off, so…
This poignant comparison says so much to me. My working life as a church pastor has shown me over and over again that people don’t just ditch the Christian faith: there’s almost always a reason other than the faith.
My faith also says something about how I regard the Christian faith.
Most of us I’m sure embrace a belief system with which we feel at relative ease and we tailor it to suit us in lots of ways. As implied above, I cringe at people who call themselves disciples of Christ and then condemn everyone who disagrees with them on issues peripheral or even remote from the person and teachings of Christ.
By nature, upbringing and training my wife and I have a tolerant and kind approach to people, living and faith matters, so we no doubt find it easier than some to see and value the many positives of the Christian faith, heritage and influence in contexts besides our own.
Of course I have questions, doubts, areas under review. What reasonable and charitable person today doesn’t?
The central Christian narratives about Jesus’ birth, death, and rising are not without issues, but then, this is true of every other “story-” and “non-story-” based approach to life.
I feel deeply troubled about what I see as the effects of increasingly non-committal, self-centred, materialistic, and individualistic approaches to living, relationships and faith. And Christians are not immune from these very human attitudes.
But because in the Christian context they’re quickly labelled as “sin” rather than “cool”, I think there’s a lot to be said for affirming the Christian world-and-life approach.
Question: If you’re a Christian or not a Christian, why is that so?