Being honest with doubt

Saturday, May 31, 2008

One of my favorite podcasts is Internet Monk Michael Spencer. He defines himself as “post Evangelical”. Not “post” in terms of being “anti”, but in terms of challenging his own and our assumptions about that particular culture in order to try and find an authentic and grace filled way of following Jesus. Michael said something there recently that I thought was so good that I'd like to quote it at length here.

To those who - despite all their deep sincerity and honest efforts, try as they might - feel that Christianity is just not working he says:

“I don't have an answer for you guys, what I have is just a moment of saying that I know you are there, and I know some of the pain you are in... some of the frighting, doubting aspects of all this that hangs over your head when you wonder what's real, what's true. I know there are moments when you say 'man, have I made a complete fool of myself with the way I live my life!'.

You are not alone. There are lots of people like you. It's hard for us sometimes to reach out, and hear one another's stories, but those stories are there... Please don't be afraid to tell your story – on your website, or across a cup of coffee, or in whatever way you have. Don't be afraid to tell that story, because there are people listening to you - tell the truth - who know that you are like them, and they value the fact that you have validated their own experience. And they are closer to God, and God is more real to them. Because you were honest about the way that Christianity sometime doesn't work for you – you help their faith journey along by letting them know that they're not crazy. They may not walk up to you and say 'I appreciate what you said', but they are there.

Christianity is I think a lot different than the people who advertise what it is. Those of us – and I hope I can count myself in this group – who will from time to time tell the truth about some of what we go through, and some of what we feel, are breaking a code of silence that keeps all kinds of people prisoners. It keeps them prisoners in manipulative churches, and abusive religious situations. It keeps them prisoners in places where leaders have to be very unlike Jesus in order to accomplish the goals of the religious organization and institution

You are okay. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Don't be afraid to have your own experience. And don't think that the Great Shepherd has lost track of you. He hasn't. There are all different kinds of sheep in the flock. One of those kinds of sheep is the sheep that feels lost. Maybe you are lost, maybe you're not. Maybe you're just going through a difficult time. But however you find yourself: don't lose your integrity, don't lose your honesty. And don't lose that sense that there are thousands and thousands of other people just like you.”

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