The Two Facets of Christianity

Driving across Iowa is boring. However, it’s something that B and I find ourselves doing a few times a year, and two weeks ago was yet another one of those occasions. Before we got married, we used long drives as an opportunity to work through our 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married book. As was its intended purpose, the questions spurred many deep and thoughtful conversations. Now, having worked through the book and passed it on to my best friend and her fiancé, we are continuing the trend. Somehow, being confined together in a small space for 3+ hours with nothing to do but drive (and occasionally change the CD or playlist), we become reflective.

As I’ve shared before, B and I come from very different religious backgrounds and viewpoints. And, although we attend church together every week, our beliefs still differ greatly. But instead of tip-toeing around the issue, B and I have learned to listen to one another as we explain our views, where we’re coming from, and where we stand currently.

One thing that B shared with me on this past trip really stuck with me. As I was elaborating on my recent experiences with Yoga, and what that meant to my faith, he said that he didn’t really feel like what I was talking about had anything to do with Christianity. I got quiet. He continued, saying that, although Christianity is (obviously) a huge trend in American culture, and many, many people call themselves and view themselves as Christians, he feels there are very few real Christians in the world. He went on to explain that he feels like real Christians are people who are out there in the world, doing something about what Jesus preached and what God asks of us. It’s not enough to feel close to God or feel a connection to Jesus, B explained. You’ve got to get out there and work to change the world.

At first, I felt offended by what B said. I’ve been feeling so connected to God and my faith recently, that I took this is some sort of insult. I felt that B was saying that what I was experiencing wasn’t good enough. “Well,” I responded, “I’m a Christian. So you can consider me a Christian.”

But, having had a week to reflect on our conversation, I’ve been able to get my thoughts together a little more. So, here goes:

I believe that Jesus brought peace to the world. I believe that this is the connectedness I feel when I do Yoga. It’s the connectedness my dad feels when he meditates. Different people feel peace in different ways; regardless, this feeling is what needs to become internalized before one can go out into the world and respond to the charge that Jesus issued to his followers. When living in peace, one is able to hear God’s call and respond to Jesus’ request. The call sounds different for every person. This is the personal, spiritual aspect of Christianity.

For me, I feel called to work with children. I want to share the love and peace I know with my students, and I want to change their worlds for the better. I do this by teaching them to read so that they can experience the world through books, teaching them to think so that they can form their own opinions, and teaching them how to handle their emotions so that they can form strong relationships in their life. This is the action-based aspect of Christianity.

The spiritual and active facets of Christianity work together to make one’s faith. One part cannot exist without the other; peace and action work hand-in-hand in my faith.

So, readers: Do you agree or disagree? How do you find peace? What is your call?

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Venting Session Re-Posted

Let me vent to you for a second. I am so disappointed that Christians have a terrible reputation. That people stereotype Christians in a bad way….think they are judgemental, haters, offended group of legalistic rule-watching-bible-beaters who are stupid. That reputation exists for a million reasons but one thing stays the same…..I HATE THAT. It makes me angry and sad and disappointed. I want people to know that God wants you to be the best version of you….be authentic…have fun and JOY…know where you are from and where you are going….and that He loves you more than I can possible describe. There are gonna be struggles…our lives are crappy, sometimes we feel we can’t climb outta our muddy trenches…but it doesn’t change the fact that God made us outta the dirt to LOVE us. He gave us his son to LOVE us. to BE WITH us. to GIVE US the best possible relationship we can imagine. and God wants us to have a future. more than this dirty shell. and He loves it when we love each other.

I am trying to focus on that. BE like that. to break that mold that everyone keeps on trying to jam me into.

Re-posted from one of my favorite daily perusals, Bower Power. Well, said, Katie!

The Faith Club

For the past year, every other Thursday night, I’ve been a part of a group of women who meet to discuss their faith. We started out calling ourselves Women’s Bible Study, but recently our name has changed, due in part to our most-recent read: The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner.

We chose this book after a study on John Stott’s Basic Christianity. Although we’d enjoyed reading about the background of our own faith, we agreed that we’d like to learn more about some of the other prominent religions of the world. We considered reading short books on each of the main five world religions, but in our search we came across The Faith Club, and knew it was right for our group (which now goes by the name Faith Club).

The Faith Club was written by three women–Christian, Muslim, and Jewish (respectively)–living in New York City after 9/11. They originally met with the intention to write a children’s book explaining the three religions, their similarities, and their differences. However, the realized that before they could write such a book, they had quite a lot to learn from one another. The Faith Club details the conversations they had, the stereotypes they shattered, and the relationships they formed. Each woman shares parts of her own story, from dealing with death, to anxiety issues, questions over the existence of heaven and hell, and what is deemed the “Crucifixion Crisis”. Each woman develops in her own faith, yet the respect they form for one another is outstanding.

The Faith Club highlights the similarities between the three religions, while also tackling the over-arching question: How can I be comfortable and devout in my own faith, yet recognize the validity of other faiths?

I believe anyone in my Faith Club would highly recommend this book, and would LOVE to discuss it with you. Now that we’ll be moving on to another to-be-determined book, I know I’ll miss Ranya, Suzanne, and Priscilla. Those Thursday nights, it felt like they’d become a part of our faith club.