In the wake of all my questioning and deconstructing lately, I’ve come to the point where most of the things I grew up believing in my faith, I no longer believe.
I used to believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God and that every word of it was culturally relevant for all times ever (unless it’s inconvenient for us).
Now I’d say the Bible is a collection of beautiful and troubling pieces of literature about God mostly from a Jewish perspective that is guided somehow by the experience of discovering who God is over time.
I used to believe that heaven is a place for Christians to experience God’s love and bliss for eternity, and hell is a place for non-Christians to experience punishment for their sins for all eternity.
Now I see that heaven and hell as we know them today aren’t in the Bible and that Jesus had very little (i.e., probably nothing) to say about our dualistic idea of the afterlife. I’d say the afterlife is more of an afterthought, and that Jesus is more concerned with how we live our lives today than how we believe things that have little evidence in the world.
I used to believe that the world is in moral decline and that God will eventually bring his judgement and wrath on it, but not before rescuing all the Christians out of the world first.
I now would say that God loves this world and that his kingdom is always progressing here in the forms of social justice, awareness of each other, and compassion.
I used to believe that unless I was absolutely certain of every single thing I say I believe, I was being unfaithful to God and displeasing him.
Now I realize that I can’t be and have never been 100% certain of my beliefs, and it’s actually my lack of certainty that makes me faithful.
I used to believe that it was my divine responsibility to convince people that God exists, heaven and hell are real consequences, and that Jesus was literally born of a virgin, died on the cross, and rose from the dead, or else they’d be tormented by God forever and ever.
I now know that people can be moral and compassionate without believing the things I do, and that many people don’t even have the ability to believe these things, but God’s big enough to not be offended by that. I also know that Christians have such a diversity of beliefs, and some people can still find value in the story of Jesus and call themselves Christians without even being convinced that it’s entirely historically accurate (even though I do believe he did raise bodily from the dead).
These are a few examples, but in the midst of all these changes in thinking and beliefs, I begin to question, what’s the value of being Christian? Why do I still call myself a Christian? When Christians have such a bad reputation to many people, why would I want to associate with the religion?
And it’s because I love Jesus. The more I read the gospels and learn who the historical Jesus was, the more I realize how many of us have missed the point of his message.
Where human nature says kill your enemies, Jesus says love your enemies.
Where human nature says retaliate, Jesus says forgive.
Where human nature says protect yourself, Jesus says turn the other cheek.
Where human nature says play the victim, Jesus says be a suffering servant.
Where human nature says we have victory through power, Jesus says we have victory through humility.
And there are so many Christians who turn a blind eye to these kinds of messages.
I believe in God because there is something in me that longs to believe in God. I long to believe that someone is guiding us somewhere and carrying us there whether we’re aware of it or not. I believe Jesus represents that God because his message is benevolent, challenging, subversive, and truly relevant for people of all times throughout history. And it grieves me deeply that so many people are turned off to Jesus because of how the people who claim to speak for him have interacted with the world.
So Christians and all people everywhere, let’s carry the good news proudly in the things we do, the ways we listen to others, and the way we understand the needs and reality of our culture.