I've been writing this post in my head for over a week now. I have phrases and words, but I am not sure how it will all come together in the end. I have come head to head with the fact that I don't believe what I thought I believed anymore.
For clarification, I believe in God, but I don't see Him in the same "authoritative parent" frame anymore, but as loving, reconciling, and engaging. I don't feel the need to contrive a relationship of my own making, but know that He is a part of every breath I breathe, in all the life that I live.
I believe in Jesus, the Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. He is that one great love. I was struck again recently with that awe of He died for me. Although, I am continually having my picture of Jesus repainted, as through the years, all the ungodly things done with His name slapped on them have really made a distortion of the picture I have of Jesus in my mind.
I used to be afraid to ask questions, feeling that either I should already know the answer, or thinking in my subconscious mind that I don't need to know, and can trust that others before me, either in church leadership or church history have already asked this question and figured it out. The few times that I had asked questions, I saw that it drew lines dividing the us from the them, so to speak, and this also caused me to shy away from such questions. Looking back to that girl from where I am now, I can't even believe she was me.
I am not afraid to think about universal reconciliation – I can't blindly believe that God made atonement for sin that some people may never be able to access based on location. If creation testifies to the Creator, I have to think in some places that must be enough. Of all things, we know that God is not unjust. Being destined for hell because you were born without the Bible or the gospel as westerners understand it does not jive with justice at all. It used to terrify me to question this – being taught that one needed the "sinner's prayer" and a brisk walk down the "Roman's Road to Salvation" in order to be right with God. I think there is more to it, and I'm not afraid to dig deeper.
I think we have gotten caught up in a lot of traditional thinking, and I am learning to question every single thing. Where did this come from? Why do we do that? I have just barely started to scratch the surface on this, but I am so excited at the ability to rightly divide what is of God and what is of man. Some of the things that I have attempted to address is where all the attitudes come from about dress, music, the rituals of communion, the obligation to attend church on Sunday, etc. Some of these deeply rooted Southern churches would have you believe that when God met Adam and Eve in the garden that he sewed them button front collared dress shirts and casual slacks for men, and a long floral skirt and blouse for women, and many missionaries set out to do the same. To go to the opposite extreme, we would all likely be wearing some fig leaf / animal skin combo. I don't know where we ever got the idea that to be Christian was synonymous with our culture, and say look like us on the outside and all is well on the inside.
A few weeks ago, I was watching a show where K.D. Lang was a guest. She was introduced and started to sing, and I suddenly became aware of something that was happening in my subconscious, the label "lesbian". It didn't allow me to appreciate her talent or her song. I was dumbfounded, and started to cry when I realized how beautiful, heart and soul she is. It was almost as if God allowed me to see her with His eyes. He doesn't see "lesbian" – He sees His beautiful girl. (More and more I would wonder if God even sees our gender.) This experience made me wonder how many other people I not allowed myself to enjoy or see beauty or value in, or for that matter love because my culture has assigned a specifically horrific value to certain types of sin, while shrugging at others. I can't live that way anymore.
I wonder about so many things. I'm not afraid to ask the hard questions, but I don't need you to answer them for me. Father and I will walk this out. I am not afraid to ask, to seek, to search, or to be called a heretic. In fact, wasn't Jesus called exactly that?