I was quoted in a Buzzfeed interview as saying, “I’m not even sure God exists.” I could hear the collective gasp from my former evangelical friends and ministry co-workers. I’m pretty sure that statement alone, never mind the rest of the story, moved me to the top of their prayer lists. But let me explain.
I’m a skeptic. I always have been, even when I claimed the Christian label. I approach life wondering how things work, why they work that way, and what it all means. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memory to go with it, so if I take something apart I can never remember how to put it back together. In my house, anything that breaks with more than three parts (including the batteries) gets replaced, thrown away, or goes to a mechanic.
Life is complex and intricate. Most of it remains unknown. Even the physical world, in which we live, is vastly unexplored. The human mind, whether created or evolved, is capable of loving, hating, and leading us to commit atrocities or unimaginable kindness. We are more often convinced by emotion than evidence. If we contemplated all of our inconsistent beliefs and actions, we’d go mad. So our brains automatically make adjustments for us so we can sleep at night. It really is amazing.
Where is God in all of this? I don’t know. Perhaps He is not in there at all. Perhaps He is the ultimate consciousness that ties it all together. Perhaps He is the energy that keeps it moving, or perhaps He is the master orchestra leader paying meticulous attention to the details. It’s all a matter of faith, isn’t it? No one can say with any certainty, in spite of his or her best felt conviction.
What I find most intriguing is that a majority evangelical Christians believe God is transcendent above physics, science and the natural world, but don’t believe for a moment that He is capable of doing anything outside their understanding of a two thousand year old, 66-chapter book. They have trapped Him in their proverbial genie’s bottle of Scriptures, rubbing the magic lamp, as it were, whenever they want Him to grant their wishes.
That doesn’t make any sense to me.
If God is God, no one will ever be able to figure Him out, nor contain Him, nor second-guess Him, nor presume to “know” Him, and certainly not presume to know someone else’s relationship to, or with Him. As I have often said, we are finite human beings in an infinite world.
Whenever we become convinced of our beliefs, we have left the uncertainty of faith and crossed over into the certainty of religion. We have entered the realm of man-made precepts, cultural ideals and moral laws. We presume to speak on behalf of God, forcing others to uphold our ideals, our understanding of God and our formula for serving, pleasing and appeasing God. Otherwise, we believe, God will bring unimaginable judgment upon everyone if we – and they – don’t do it the “right” way.
I refuse to play the game.
With 33,000+ sects of Christianity alone, including what most evangelicals would consider the apostate teachings of Mormons and Roman Catholics, there are nearly as many interpretations of the Bible as there are people. Speaking as a professional instructor, if this were a corporate training program and God were the CEO, this would be a colossal failure.
I am a truth seeker. I am not intimidated by information that contradicts what I believe to be true. I am open to learning, changing and making adjustments. I learn from the experiences of others and value their wisdom. This allows me to accept people where they are and show compassion without placing judgment on them. I don’t feel the need to change them or correct them. In fact, I may learn something I didn’t know before. Living in the uncertainty of faith allows me to live authentically, love more freely and give without any expectations.
If God exists, I believe He seamlessly embodies love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and grace. He shows Himself in humanity through every act of kindness, every gentle touch and through words of encouragement. He exhibits His power when we stand against poverty, injustice and unfair treatment of those who have been disenfranchised and marginalized. Just as Jesus instructed. When human beings are treated with dignity, respect and fairness, He is exalted. My life of praise is not found in a three-cord song, or a pithy lyric, but in the way I treat others.
If God is God, He is above culture, religion, politics and human understanding. He is not threatened by incongruent beliefs, cognitive dissonance, or our inability to comprehend or believe in Him. Human morality does not change His nature, surprise Him, scare Him or send Him into a panic.
If God is all truth, then as a truth seeker, I am a follower of God.
Please share your thoughts below.