May 21st has now come and gone. And most of us are still here. To the chagrin of some, us countless heathens of the world (who choose not to function or embrace their particular radical faith paradigm) are still walking around. I am sure many have died from diseases, war, famine, and countless other ways that humanity faces on a daily basis. However, most of us are still here.
As delusional as I knew this doomsday rapture would happen as predicted on May 21st, I still held my breath as the clock struck 8 pm (cst) for a brief second wondering if that crazy bastard in California, who’s name I had never heard of up until this week, could be right. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was afraid. I was afraid because I was brought up in a faith structure that’s functional foundation was fear.
You must understand, I am not trying to jump on the bandwagon of talking about what I believe (or what I don’t believe) about hell – even though I believe those conversations are needed and I am glad that people are having them. I am talking about living in fear.
Fear is a faceless foe. It often takes shape as we gaze upon our own reflections. Fear is a powerful thing… in fact, fear may be one of the most impetuous things that we as humans will ever have to face.
Whether or not you believe people die and go to hell if they do not have Jesus as their personal lord and savior (which I don’t, but that’s a different article that I may write in the near future), our faith should never be based on fear. Yet for many of us it is.
I grew up in faith structure that was fueled by fear. Fear of going to hell, fear of being a bad Christian, fear of having someone else’s blood on my hands because I was poor witness… I lived in fear.
Though I’ve deconstructed many of the fears that I grew up with, I still have many I wrestle with – and probably will for the rest of my life. This weekend it has been the undercurrent of fear of the possibility of The End.
I am told on a regular basis that I am heretic. And although I often see myself as more of a blue-collar theologian, I realize that this “heretic” perception is the perspective of many. These self-proclaimed defenders of the faith also tell me that I am going to be judged by a righteous rubric – and that my punishment for leading people astray will be more severe than the average heretic since I am pastor and author. Most days I don’t take these accusations to heart, but this weekend I realized I was subconsciously internally weighing these pontifications to see if they had any merit.
Needless to say I’ve been irritable (more so than usual) and it wasn’t until my patient, I am-not-going-to-put-up-with-your-bullshit beloved wife Stephanie suggested that my stress may be induced by all the doomsday talk.
Stephanie’s observation was spot on. Even though I have laughed all week at the fact that the world had focused it’s spotlight on a man who already had a defunct doomsday prediction back in the mid 90s, it stirred up this dormant feeling of fear that hadn’t surfaced in years.
Faith built on fear is not faith and it has false foundation that will eventually crumble. I believe that is why Christianity, at least the vein that as many of us grew up in, is crumbling – because it has been built fear instead of love – the promise that we are a loved creation. I would rather be labeled a heretic, disowning the fear that has been the foundation of my faith for such a long time, and embrace the truth of the Great Commandment that Jesus uttered so many years ago, than be a “champion” of faith that leads people to write shitty novels that are deemed theology because fear sells books and allows the spotlight to shine upon our doomed heads from time to time.
So let us create a faith that is sustainable. Faith not based in fear, for a faith built upon fear is not sustainable, but faith that built upon faith, hope, and above all else love.