I have written four columns listing some (almost) tongue–in–cheek reasons not to be a Christian. This is the list of eight reasons I gave: The church is full of hypocrites. The church is morally compromised. Christians aren’t always nice. Won’t you have to condemn other religions? People may make fun of you. It will require sacrifices. Your life is no longer your own. You don’t think you could keep it up.
With each of those reasons, I suggested why they might be barriers to people who are wondering about their spirituality. With each reason, I also suggested other ways of thinking about it.
I want to conclude this series with a final column in which I discuss why I think being a Christian is one of the richest and most profound decisions we can make.
So here it is …
This is what life is all about.
Today’s media tends to portray only a conservative view of Christianity. If you are a regular reader of my columns, you will know that there are other ways to practice Christian faith.
Honestly, if the conservative evangelical brand were all there is, I would be turned off as well. I couldn’t do it. Conservative Christians have allied themselves with a conservative social value system which stands against such things as abortion no matter the reason, against people who are on the LGBTQ spectrum, against progressive social ideas and values, against medical assistance in dying, against women in leadership roles, against evolution and other scientific explanations for how life began and how the world continues to work, against any notion of climate change. Such a faith defines itself in opposition to something.
Furthermore, conservative Christians have allied themselves with conservative politics both in the USA and in Canada. It is part of the shame of this movement that Christian leaders of this type of Christian faith support the President of the USA, and ignore his boorish, misogynistic, hate–mongering and fear–mongering behaviour.
But there is another way of being Christian.
I try to practice a faith not in opposition to … but one which seeks to affirm life. Many are aware that my position on such questions as I listed above is much more progressive and forward–looking. I welcome all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, and am an ardent advocate of same–gender marriage. I am a strong advocate for medical assistance in dying and abortion … with proper and appropriate safeguards in place. I don’t read the Bible literally. I don’t agree that other religions have only a limited value. I welcome difference, because it provides us all with the opportunity to learn from those with whom we disagree. And so on …
I have found in my life that my faith in God profoundly enriches the way I live, the way I think about things, the way I interact with people, the way I understand the meaning and purpose of life.
In my faith, I have discovered that there is something More in the universe, More than we can touch or smell or hear or see or taste. To be more accurate, I have discovered that there is SomeOne More.
I cannot prove God exists. Neither can I prove that love exists, although I believe profoundly in the power of love to change hearts and move people to be more than they are. But I trust deeply in the ongoing presence of God in my life and in the life of the universe.
At the end of World War 2, the following words were found etched on the wall of a cellar in Cologne where a number of Jews had hidden for the duration of the war: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when he is silent.”
A faith like that can hold us through anything that life can throw at us.
In my own faith, my own trust in God, I have discovered a relationship with One who loves me more deeply than I can imagine. God’s passionate love for me has led me to love others with an equal passion in return.
I love the following lines from a poem called “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
For me, there lies the essence of what has enriched my life. The way of faith, although it may be more difficult, is also more joyful, more enriching, more illuminating. It is filled with greater delight, more profound love, a more powerful hope, and the promise of a greater maturity.
I’m not perfect. Far from it. I’m one of those hypocrites in church, remember? But my life has been immeasurably enriched as I join in community with the people and creatures of the world in a life which I try to live in praise of the One who made me, who makes me more than I could ever be by myself, and who calls me to walk with trust and hope into the future.
Rev. Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook