I haven’t written here in a while. And that fact has not escaped me. But it seems that most of what I want to write here is not stuff that many people want to read. And if this is a public blog, why write things that do not inspire other people’s beliefs? But today I will write.
Today my son stayed home from school with a fever. Secretly, I love when he is sick and gets to stay home because I get that one on one time with him. And when he is sick, he wants love and affection, and is just so mellow. I put him down for a nap around noon, and he took a two and a half hour nap, another bonus of him being sick. And during that time, I tried to take one myself, as I’m kind of sick too. But not really being one to nap, I probably nodded off for about 5 minutes, and then spent the rest of the time just thinking as I lay in bed. And soon I found myself thinking about Jesus.
There are a lot of fears I have about religion, and especially belonging to a religion that says they are the only true religion in the world. That takes a lot of moxie to claim such a thing. And yet, religions all over the world claim this to be so about their beliefs. So with all these religions claiming their way is the only way to get to God, well it leaves a lot of confusion and turmoil in its wake. Did you know there are holy wars going on? That they’ve been going on for hundreds of years? Of course you did. And it makes sense when you think about it, when everyone is fighting that their religion is the one true religion. An Afghanistan man is on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity. He says he still believes in the almighty Allah, but cannot say for sure who God really is. “I am,” he says, “a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ.” Now he must fight for his life because of what he believes in.
And what makes me sad about this, not to mention that a man might face death over Jesus, but that we as Christians tend to do this, or are accused of this. I’m not talking about condemning a man to death in this life, but condemning others to death in the next life. Christ taught love, he ate with tax collectors. He surrounded himself with sinners. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 It is no secret how much trouble I am having with who gets to go to Heaven and who doesn’t. If it were my way, we would get into Heaven based on our life and deeds here, not on blind faith. The thing is, I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. And as hard as I try to ignore it, this belief is a part of me and always will be. But what if I had been born Muslim? Would I feel God as Allah, feel it in my whole soul, be able to back it up with miracles in my life, and never know this man they call Jesus as my Savior? If I did hear of Jesus, would I only view Him as a neat guy to maybe model my life after, sort of like a prophet, and not as my Savior? And what scares me is, do I see it this way now?
Right before Lucas woke up, I found myself talking to Jesus, just as I was having these exact fears and doubts. And as I realized that I was praying to Jesus as I simultaneously was fearing what the absolute truth was of Him, the irony did not escape me. And I thanked Him for allowing me the freedom to question Him, and still be with me. And I realized that while I will not condemn others with different beliefs, I can never dispute in my own life who my Lord and Savior is, and I never want to feel what it might be like to not feel Him, hear Him, talk to Him, and feel blessed by Him.
I opened my book, The Barbarian Way, and began trying to catch up in the book that my homegroup had already finished (I think). And in it, the author is inwardly struggling with his son who is questioning God. And the author describes struggle after struggle this preacher’s boy is having. At the age of 14, the boy finally tells his dad that if he had not been born a Christian, he probably would not be one. And I sat there open mouthed, reading what a pastor has admitted about his own son in a book available to many. And I was shocked that the members of my own church were encouraging this book that was full of, even just slightly, some controversial and edgy details. It is no secret that I have felt this very way. And I know that while I admit it more than most, everyone goes through these kinds of troubling thoughts, fears, and doubts.
Lucas woke up finally and joined me in my bed as I read. And he asked me if the book I was reading had any pictures. I kind of flipped through and showed him the picture at the beginning of the next chapter. And though I knew that this material would really be no interest to him, I asked him if he’d like me to read to him. I figured if anything, it would give him an excuse to wake up fully and be cuddled, and be soothed just by my voice. He said yes. So I read. And the part I read talked about how in old times, “Barbarians” came in to convert others to Christianity, Roman Catholicism to be exact, and ended up taking the fire out and creating a domesticated church. And it talked about how many churches become more like businesses and teach the law rather than how to have a relationship with God. It talked about God’s own revolt 2,000 years ago against Judaism, the religion He created, by changing things through His son, Jesus. It talked about the sins of the church in Jesus’ time, how forgiveness was bought to absolve sins. And this was the one time that Jesus went from being gentle and loving, and He became angry and violent. And he urged the church to destroy their temple and just follow God, and that their temple would be built up again in three days time. And that it was fitting when the “Temple of God”, Jesus, was destroyed, so was the curtain in the earthly temple, from top to bottom. And as I read this, I wondered just what Lucas was hearing, and if he was getting anything out of this. And part of me even hoped that he was oblivious to the words and was just listening to the voice, as this particular section was really coming down hard on churches. But then I read something amidst all this….
“Anyone who chooses the barbarian way will learn quickly that love and sacrifice cannot be separated. This is perhaps why so many of us who know love fear love. We know that love is not the absence of pain. If anything, love is the promise of pain. No one has loved more deeply than God. Has anyone ever been more betrayed? God would not know suffering if He did not know love. But because He is love, He chose to suffer on our behalf. Without love there is no glory in suffering.”
And at this, Lucas looked up at me.
“Mommy, God is love, and He loves us.”
And at that, it came back to the simplicity of God, the part we can easily understand when we have a pure relationship with Him. God is love and He loves us. Of all this, this is what my son had heard. I don’t have the answers to all the things that trouble me about what I’m being taught about Him. I don’t think I even want to know. I would rather live in God’s love, share just that and not the condemnation, and accept without guilt those in my life who’s beliefs differ from mine.
For God is love, and He loves us.