Friday, July 03, 2009

It's Not Easy Being a Christian

On the way home from convention, I was thinking about how hard it is to be a Christian. Not because an unbelieving world hates us (they don't. At least, not really), or because our numbers are dwindling.

I find it hard to be a Christian because of other Christians. We fight a lot. When Christians fight, it feels like the outcome has eternal significance. We talk about life, God, the meaning of creation, and somewhere in there lies the idea that, whatever we say about the Divine must be Absolutely True. No other truths need apply. And so, the church becomes one of the most political organizations on this beautiful blue planet fighting for the One Big Truth.

Visiting with a friend during convention, a friend who one would not call a believer (at least not in the classic, Christian sense. She can correct me if I'm wrong), but who is deeply perceptive of the things of the Spirit and of life, commented that she was surprised by the political goings-on at convention. The factions. The infighting. She thought that Christians might make a better effort to get along, if not actually love one another.

One would think.

For me, the biggest challenge of being a Christian is believing that God called this fractiously diverse group of people together and stamped God's name on its collective forehead. The challenge of believing that this is what God really wants for the church. That the church, as presently expressed is how God wants Christians to gather.

Apparently so. The earliest Christian documents were Paul's letters. And each of them were about how to deal with church fights. And these little churches could scrap. If these churches had noses blood would gush from them. They weren't any better at getting along than we are.

I guess that's why we live by grace. If God demanded perfect behaviour from us then we'd all better load up on cosmic sunscreen.

So, I suppose the real challenge is to live by this grace, forgiving others, being forgiven. I hate that part. I'd rather look down my nose at other Christians, believing I'm better than them. I'd rather fight the good fight against others, believing that, because my cause is just, I can behave against others any way I want to.

But that very act, that very impulse, tells me I'm not any better than them. And I fall back to grace.

Like I said. It's not easy being a Christian.

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