In my teens, faith in God seemed obvious. Maybe a combination of youth and fundamental, literal Bible teachings at church made it seem that way. “God’s will” was something that could be fairly easily found, a black and white issue that you either followed or you didn’t.
A few years of college later, the lines started to gray. I met many other Christians who went to churches that met very differently from my own. And yet they were seeking God and seeking to serve Him too.
Yet a few more years have passed now, and the black and white of youth is no longer there. Is it just a matter of having grown up, having believed the wrong blacks and whites, or something else?
I read what Jesus says, and the words both about love and conflict seem beyond understanding. “Love your neighbor as yourself”, being the most important thing after loving God. Do I see Christians known for that? And then today, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father… If you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.” (Mat. 10:34-37)
I go to a fairly “contemporary” church. The Bible is God’s truth, and yet there is some room for it to be taken as more than literal – leading to a dynamic church where women have some leadership roles, we work on the environment, we sing songs other than 1800’s-era hymns.
Then there is a good friend of mine, one who lives like Jesus would, I think. She shares her time, her art, her money all the time with the people in her neighborhood, her city, her world, yet she’s taking a break from organized church for a while. Seeking God outside of church? Others seek God in the “emergent church” – maybe the most contemporary type of church out there. Still others are drawn back to churches that are much more “orthodox”.
Finding different (if not quite opposing) well-informed perspectives on education, the environment, politics, history seems relatively easy. Finding those same perspectives on faith in God is really challenging me. Black and white perspectives are easy in a sense - they allow me to know if I'm right or wrong. On faith issues - my values, my purpose, my after-life - it is almost as if our lives depend on being "right". As I read about faith issues, the perspectives seem to be especially biased, charged, and so sometimes confusing. There is so much that I don’t know, don’t understand – but that I want to!
Where, in between the black, gray and white, would Jesus be walking, and taking me with him?
"Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse."—African proverb