I always hesitate to write blogs like this - blogs about judgmental attitudes can often point back to myself as having been judgmental in the very writing of the blog. I suppose that's true. In advance, I beg forgiveness for the likelihood that in my own meditation and ponderings I've played God and judged the heart of fellow people based solely on my observations and thoughts. This blog is not intended to stand in judgment of anyone, but it is the result of me digging in to my own faith journey and finding out what the whole point of it is and what it is that I even believe in.
I've talked many times about my spiritual upbringing - it's quite diverse. Was raised in an ultra conservative Southern Baptist home with a mom who thought sex was a dirty word and a dad who thought he should leave his stack of playboys out on the coffee table for visitors to enjoy. My church said that emotion was ungodly and "dangerous" and should never be expressed towards God. I attended Lutheran school for seven years where I was required to memorize bible verses and say the apostle's creed for a grade. After elementary school each day I would spend several hours with an older extremely pro-Israel couple who loved me and my mother dearly. They actively studied biblical numerology, astrology, and biblical end-times prophecy while smoking about four packs of cigarettes a day and throwing around cuss words like they should be part of any fourth grader's vernacular. My mother taught me to *appreciate* (and use) extrasensory perception and other spiritual phenomenons while also telling me that rock and roll music was from the devil.
I later attended some charismatic churches where I witnessed some pretty amazing stuff. People speaking in different languages that they did not know, people with some nasty ailments being prayed for and healed, people becoming "drunk" in the spirit and being "slain" in the spirit to the point where they fell down and occupied a semi-conscious state for several minutes. Most impressive to me were the prophecies being uttered by "strangers" to me and the congregations, saying stuff so poignant that no one could have made that kind of stuff up. I also remember on several occasions have worship experiences that were so deep and meaningful that I was literally brought to tears in the service.
Different as these experiences have been, one thing has remained constant... there are good people and bad people in each place. My spirit has found both kinship and enmity in all of them. There are attributes of each experience that I think have positively formed me in some way - and there have been experiences in each that have left a deep and powerful negative mark, as well.
I recently attended a meeting that was primarily attended by charismatic believers where we had a great time of prayer and prophetic ministry. I have missed this depth of communion with God in prayer and was feeling the longing to be a part of that kind of church body again...when I subsequently was also met with such a "religious spirit" of condemnation and judgment, arrogance, fakery, and spiritual pride that I just wanted to run away and never return.
Many times I have considered changing churches so that I could find that group of people whom I could feel "at home spiritually with". But the more I look, the more I don't think that group of people exists - the closest that I have found don't even technically share my Christian faith. I deal with the conundrum of what to do with this faith that I proclaim. Indeed, I often wonder aloud exactly what my faith is even in. I hear people proclaim a Christian faith and then deny living the life that Jesus would urge living and the message that he taught. Makes me wonder what their faith is in, as well? They proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God and thus they consider themselves a Christian. Or some of the charismatics pray in tongues and prophecy, yet do not follow the simple commands that Jesus taught. I wonder what the point of that is? You either believe the message or you don't. It's either a part of who you are or it isn't.
I have largely found myself drawn to the people who just want to be real. If the word "shit" is on their lips, the word "shit" comes out of their mouth. If they are in the midst of a crisis of faith, they don't try to "fake it until they make it". If they stub their toe, they tell you it hurts. They do their best to be honest about everything - the bad AND the good. Not to say that it's a good idea to intentionally offend people or to live in a state of negativity; rather I'm saying I've grown weary of guessing about people's real state of mind. I'm weary of hearing someone preach "dying to the flesh" and then proceed to cling to wealth and possession over relationship. I'm pretty much done with hearing any word of instruction from any person of faith who does not have the capability to ask forgiveness for one of their actions that caused hurt and division. I prefer an honest and humble agnostic who smokes weed on the weekends to a degreed and decorated pastor who is afraid to admit his faults and shortcomings. In fact, there are many in the church who would actively tell me that it is my duty to avoid befriending that humble agnostic.
I don't want to abandon the "church" as a result of this, but I truly am in a conundrum over to what extent to be involved. I want to know and fellowship with the God of the universe, but I'm not real interested in associating with many of the people who call themselves his ardent followers. I love the grace and the blessings that flow from on high...but I think that so many "believers" have yet to allow that part of God to flow through their lives. I want to fellowship with those who are "real", but I don't want that reality at the expense of depth with God.
I have no answers. And when I have no answers inclining me to change course I generally take that to mean that I need to continue doing what I'm doing and stay on the same heading. I'm quite certain I still won't fit in anywhere. But I guess life's purpose is not for me to fit in somewhere... it is to do my best to be conformed to the image of the Son, letting his life flow through me, regardless of what goes on around me.
And so the conundrum continues.