Monday, August 20, 2007

a few thoughts

I am probably writing this mostly to myself, since anyone who checks this blog on even the most erratic basis has been consistently disappointed, but I just need to write today.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend, and it has left a nagging question in my mind that I really can't answer. Or perhaps the question was already there, and it's just uncomfortably close to the surface now. As we talked about the ways our lives have changed since we last talked, we stumbled into one of our recurring, yet always unanswered, questions: what does it really look like to be a Christian? How does it make us different, and would the people I come into contact with on a daily basis be surprised to hear me profess my faith?

A beautiful, though I think only partial, answer has been formulating in my mind since then. I feel that part of being a Christian has to be the value we assign to each other. To know that every person is a reflection of the character of our Creator completely shifts the way I view someone. If this is true, I have no right to marginalize, or to constrain people to a rigid role my mind has assigned to them, or to value someone more or less according to what I think they can offer me. I know that this answer ignores a few key points of salvation and grace, but right now this thought won't leave me, and I feel like there must be a reason for that.

I've struggled so much lately with my job - I am around someone who constantly and unashamedly makes fun of anyone who is different than himself. Last Friday, this involved a female Episcopalian minister who came into our office, who he proceeded to compare to (or perhaps just decided she actually was) a lesbian (even though she was married), a muslim (?!), a tree-hugger, and a women's right activist. All of this before he had even met her! Disgusting enough on its own, but even more so when you know that this same person is a professing Christian, goes to church, teaches Sunday School to children, and makes sure we all pray together before we start our work day. Words often escape me on days like that.

I don't know what the whole answer is, but surely it must be informed by this? I always cringe when people pick a Christian who doesn't exemplify their idea of God and say "If that's what being a Christian is, I don't want anything to do with it!" I wish I could direct their attention to someone else, in part because the person they are pointing out usually is a poor example, but also because it seems like a weak excuse to pick out the person who just proves your point. But right now, I can see how hard it is to look past something like that. I'm not giving up, but I am certainly questioning how faith and grace can truly exist in what seems like such a hateful heart. And even more, I am wondering what it is that I am blind to.


Casi said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks for posting. I think that viewing everyone as a child of God is something that we (Christians in general, not just you and I ;)) hardly even strive to do. It's extremely difficult and goes against what is seen in society, but something that I think is very important to God. This post encourages me to evaluate my actions and motives.

Hancock Handyman, or Nanuk of the North said...

I'll give you an A for asking serious questions, partial credit for your partial answers, and extra credit for making my workplace seem a little more pleasant.

It's probably too late at night for me to answer this seriously. Plus I take a long time to process, so I hope to think about it and come back with a stunning, yet elegant, response.

In the mean time, I'll add this. Most of the people I work with, I do not believe are Christians. But I struggle to say specifically what seems un-Christlike about them. Many appear to live clean, moral lives and, I think, must not seem heathen compared to me. Of course it's what's inside that's different and though we can't judge others, the Bible says that "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" and we are to discern.

I also think it can be dangerous to compare ourselves to others because we might come to a point where we think we are "better than most" when we must emulate Christ ultimately.

I'll try to think a bit more and update when I do. Thanks Janell.

Pandora said...

Good words.