Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The nest of tradition
In the eight month period of what I've decided to call my "spiritual renaissance", I feel God has really challenged me to step outside my head so to speak. To break the Christian box. To stop confining Him to all these preconceived notions, particularly the ones people instilled in me as irrefutable truth(with good intent of course). To stop assuming that I have things all figured out.
And this was very uncomfortable to me, as I think it is for any human. Bishop Carlton Pearson says,
"the human mind has an incredible capacity for refusing to see what it doesnt want to see. Sometimes we feel that we know so much, that we dont want to know anymore. That we dont want to consider that there just may be another aspect of truth we havent considered yet."( very loosely quoted).
Thats where I was, and in some ways still am. I had prayed many months ago to be closer to God, to have that passion that I had in years past again. All I wanted was God back the way I knew Him...I didnt particularly want new or enhanced understandings. So there I sat in my ship with all the questions I (to this day) believe God allowed me to have for good reason.
I prayed constantly and cried out to God...I just wanted to love others and help them see God like I had in years past... but He finally helped me realize that in order to do that, I needed to stop trying to sail back to what I knew before, and completely release myself from the shores of mainstream Christianity and let the good Lord guide my ship.
So finally I did, and I let myself examine the concepts that I had completely either written off as crazy or were only slightly sympathetic to (such as ultimate reconciliation). And slowly but surely I felt the anger and confusion melt away in awe of an amazing, transcendent God. I felt challenged, but also willing to examine my old beliefs and adjust them according to what God was showing me...even when it didnt seem to make sense...or in the case of ultimate reconciliation...too MUCH sense (haha).
At the same time I developed a knack for skepticism, to the extent that I never really had before. Ive never been a fan of questioning things too much or too deeply (until these last 8 months or so) but it unwillingly became ingrained as apart of my thought process.
At the same time I get the typical sense of surety that I shouldn't question such things...that I should just accept what Ive been taught growing up. But what am I afraid of? If God is truth, more investigation of that truth will only confirm it and give me a more solid ground to stand upon. Truth would not and will not magically overcome God and the Bible if they indeed be true, in which I believe they are. So I began to question why I KNEW what I did, how was I so sure?
I knew that I had had reasons to believe what I did, but was there a bigger picture of the world that I wasnt seeing?
Even though I feel like the dust has settled and I feel my beliefs more solid than they were previously, I constantly ask myself this. And I feel that question ultimately has led me to a much grander view of truth. Coming back into having a passion to debate and investigate I cant help but ask myself "Who is really right? Could I be wrong?". I wish more Christians were able to do that. because one of the main problems I see in the world today is the fact that everybody thinks they're right about everything, and so little do we challenge that. We're so ready to accept whats been handed down to us, and what the preacher says on Sunday mornings, that in the process we may plug our ears and laugh at a more reasonable (and often times, more Biblical) view.
Our tradition and Christian religion is a wonderful incubator or "nest" in which a fledgling Christian can hop around and chirp. A place where one can open their little mouth in hunger and eat the worm of mainstream doctrine, and be safe from the likes of atheist and Muslim birds. But eventually the fledgling grows up and gets sick of the prescribed doctrine worms. Eventually the bird is tired of his sibling birds who have grown enormous egos along with their bodies. The small nest no longer suits his need for growth and shelter. And thus the once little bird must spread his wings and fly into the unknown, and make his own nest so to speak. I call this flying "the nest of tradition" or phase two of the Christian life. Its not to say that one disregards everything one learns in the nest, but that our growth in God and understanding Him cannot be contained to the nest of tradition and its interpretations.
Flying outside of that nest I feel I have more of a real love for God and people, and a bigger view of Him and His ways.
So many times we seem to value our tradition more than we value what the Bible says or what God may be trying to show us. In Matthew 15 some Pharisees get mad at Jesus because His diciples didnt wash their hands before eating, as was the tradition. And Jesus replies in verse 3-7,
"And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? ...(buncha stuff)... you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7You hypocrites!..."
I think Jesus implies here that our tradition, The Bible, and what God shows us arent by nature in the same camp...and should be separated when they come into conflict with one another. Failure to do so gets us stuck in our man-made religions and ideals...instead of a pursuit for God. I think we should no longer allow such tradition to get in the way of the things Gods trying to show us...and in doing so will make us so much wiser as I feel I have started to become.
Its possible and am almost sure that I am still wrong about some things. That other people may be wiser in some respects, even some fundamentalist Christians. I certainly hope Im right about many things, most particularly ultimate reconciliation and Gods unfailing love for all humanity. But at the end of the day I've come to conclude that THIS is where God wants me to be. This is the place of mind where He has led me and where He broke the oppression from my heart. My understanding always has and always will be in need of growth (as is the case with everyone). And I could spend all day everyday in torment worrying that God will be forever furious if I dont get the perfect definitions of everything. But God purposefully has not given us the answers to everything in "clear as day, proven fact" form. So the only thing we can do as human beings, is to piece together the evidence given in the most coherent matter possible, with the Holy Spirit guiding us accordingly. And thats what I try to do now as I live life...nothing more, nothing less. I dont think God honestly expects anything more of His creations, how could He? And that is part of why I believe He truly has an unfailing and unconditional love for us all, that death itself cannot and will not stop.
So wont you fly the nest? Isnt it so cramped and confusing in there? Isnt it so frustrating dealing with the "know it alls" after awhile? Arent you ready to let the spirit of God take you on a journey to see a bigger view of the world and His love for it?I admit it can be scary at first, but I think its healthy to really look at why we believe what we do. To not stubbornly presume we have the "right" interpretation and everyone else is just wrong and deceived by Satan. To truly examine the possibilities. I think in doing that we can begin to understand people and God so much better.