Intentional Uncertainty

I am a Christian; I am sure I’m not alone in feeling that “Christian” is a loaded word. It seems that has to be said either evangelically or ashamedly, and I would side on the latter. But here I am writing it as unemotionally as I can. The problem is that I connect many attitudes and social organizations to Christianity that are, at best, ugly, or at worst, destructive. So while I’d rather not self-identify and be labeled as a Christian, it is the most accurate religion label for me (I grew up in the Midwest U.S.). I hope that someday labels do not segregate and denigrate, but simply and only help with communication and understanding.  A couple of thoughts; one, some Christians would likely claim I am not a true Christian; two, there some who might resonate with me who once had identified as Christian, but no longer do so; and three, I desire to know the truth and often talk as if I am certain, but it’s uncertainty that I am learning to live with and embrace.

I am trying to eliminate belief statements and replace my phraseology with “I contend” statements. I do not mean to disparage belief; belief in oneself or belief in God can be beautiful and beneficial. However, belief should not be a blindfold; and as I look back at my story, the adverb “blindly”, was an appropriate one to put before my beliefs. When choosing to use the word “contend”, I am forced to justify, explain, and consider evidences, if only in my head.

Now, there are many reasons to contend that the world, and more specifically knowledge, is not all empirical and rational. There are phenomena and experiences that are unexplainable, at least currently. I do not consider my outlook to be fully outside of a humanistic world view; I contend that science may very well be able to explain the next mystery, too. But just as we start to know more of the mystery, the mystery grows larger, or appears elsewhere. It is this uncertainty that I love to dig into, that I am learning to both sit with and work through, and that is uncomfortable and comforting.

My motivation to consider what I believe has been rekindled by a quasi-return to church. As I write this I haven’t been in over a month, but my next post was written in reflection on returning from church. Thanks for reading.

– someone’s brother (Derek)

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How am I spending my time? What I do during the day, can it all be considered a prayer? Intentionally playing with my daughter, getting a task done, dishes, weeding in the garden, or reading about a world event—catching up on the news? What about the time spent unintentionally? Spending time on Facebook, watching a show on Hulu, or sleeping in? We have to make choices on where and how to spend our spare time. For the last five years I have not wanted to spend my spare time going to church. Over this time I have gone a handful times, mostly out of obligation or for my daughter.

But I have just started to attend (go back) with more frequency; in the last four months, I probably have averaged a trip to the church on Sunday twice a month.  Two years ago we moved to this town, and clearly, we didn’t rush to find a church. We did try a few services, but moving to a new town wasn’t magic, it was still the idea and function of church and religion as practiced [especially] by evangelical Christians that kept us away.

Yesterday I was there; and there, I did see the value—knowing people and being known, a place to be silent and listen, regular invitations to  be whole, healthy and alive, and consistent invitations and opportunities to participate in helping the world, the community, and others. Could “church” be recreated in a different manner that more tangibly brings “heaven” to earth? A group of people giving money can make a difference; can’t help to think how much money is diverted away, to churches. I am not even talking about extravagant spending on fancy buildings and technology, it’s simply the costs of running an orchestrated show weekly in a space to meet the demands of tradition and people with particular demands that I question.

I often dream of something different. I am not alone, plenty of others are reimagining church. I recall people talking about coffee shop churches, small groups, house churches, even calling meetings at the bar, church. But I am not talking about trying to change the venue, simplify the experience, or just be less religious. I want to participate in something that transcends me. I want to serve others, be inspired by others doing the same thing and see our efforts be greater because we are not doing it alone. I want to be a part of social change and bringing restoration where it is needed.

I saw glimpses of that in church yesterday; it is probably why I have been coming back. But there were still the old words that gave me pause…”Trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”, . . .what does that mean? Okay, later.

– someone’s brother (derek)

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