Sometimes, following a certain type of post I write (the most recent being Evangelist, or Ego-Driven Meddler?), I get an email or two telling me what a shabby excuse for a Christian I am. (Though let me hasten to add that for every one message I get in the “To [Hades] with you, devil boy!!” vein, I get thirty of the sort that make me blush with faux-modesty before I consider robbing a bank so that I can afford to go to seminary and then start my own church.)
If by chance you are a person who feels that at some point you, too, might be compelled to stop your busy day long enough to write and inform me of how I could or should become a better Christian, allow me, in the hopes of saving you that time, to say that it’s virtually impossible for me to care less about what you or anyone else think Christianity is. I just don’t care. I don’t care what my neighbor thinks Christianity is. I don’t care what members of the church up the street think Christianity is. I don’t care what any Christian leader, pastor, author, or celebrity you can name thinks Christianity is.
I. Don’t. Care. Not because I’m ornery. Not because I’ve Gotta Be Me. Not because I’m so convinced of my own version of Christianity that I’m blind to the wisdom of those who came before me, or who think deeper than I, care more than I, or flat-out know more than I. Lots of people know more than I about a lot of things—including, of all things, Christianity. I mean … duh. If being dumber than others about things that mean a lot to me bothered me, I’d have killed myself years ago.
I believe in the Christianity I do because one day God clobbered me over the head with the Christianity HE wanted me to understand. My entire knowledge of the core truths of Christianity happened to me at the moment of my conversion. (An event I wrote a bit about here.) My understanding of God, and God’s nature, and the historical reality of the figure known to us as Jesus Christ, hasn’t in any substantive way changed one iota since that revelatory moment. I’ve since then learned more about what’s in the Bible—but that’s it. The truth of what I learned remains exactly as I learned it. And it always will. I know this like I know my name.It’s wonderful that you have your own relationship with God and Christianity, and that you feel passionately about it. But that relationship is between you and God, period. It’s got nothing to do with me.
Besides, if you’re a Christian, we’re already on the same side. God has already made me your brother. That’s enough. Maybe I don’t do Christianity exactly as you do. Maybe I hear our Lord saying slightly or even greatly different things to me than you hear him saying to you. So what? I guarantee you that I can respect your understanding of God, insofar as I count as dear friends Christians of every stripe. Conservatives. Liberals. Fundamentalists. Progressives. People at every point in between. All of them, listening to God. All of them, following God according to the lights afforded them. All of them, trying to become as much like Christ as they can.
A beautiful thing! (And common, I believe, to virtually everyone—but that’s another post.)
Anyway, if you write to tell me what I should think about Christianity, and what I should do about God, and what I must feel is right and true and necessary relative to Christ, I promise you’re wasting your time. I won’t be two sentences into reading your email or comment before I’ll be bored to death by it, delete it, and then literally forget I ever saw it.
Maybe you’re right, and I am wrong about God. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe we’re all wrong. Maybe none of us is.
Life is short. I can wait to find out what I don’t now know about God. But, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to hear it from him.