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 fiancĂ©, 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?