Tuesday, September 23, 2008

UnChristian - Part 4

The next perception is this: "Christians are boring, unintelligent, old-fashioned, and out of touch with reality."

The perception is that Christians are simple minded people who aren't very educated, believe in some silly things, and basically have no idea what the real world is really like. I have to say that in some circles of Christianity, that probably isn't too far from the truth. But overall, while the perception may not be true, the reality is that it's how we are perceived.

Here's the main thing to me - younger generations are more than willing to live in a world without all the answers. Previous generations have prided themselves on figuring it all out, from science to theology. Everything was neatly categorized and boxed. Newer generations are excitedly exploring all the intricacies of life, and are highly skeptical of anyone who says that they know the answers to life's most difficult questions. They are comfortable with difficult questions, with contradicting answers, and with the unknown. For me, this is a breath of fresh air. I love to hear people wrestling with ideas. I love that younger generations aren't satisfied with pat answers. I'm also really excited about a generation that is comfortable with a growing understanding of God. God teaches me new things all the time. My understanding of Him grows. And there is so much that I don't get. I just don't understand Him. And that's ok! Who wants to serve a God that we can completely understand and disect? I want a God that is Big. A God that I learn more about all the time. A God that surprises me in the ways that He does things. A God that speaks through people, and then bushes, and then donkeys. The day that I have God figured out and I have all the answers is the day that I have made God in my own image. He doesn't play by my rules, I don't understand Him, and that is beautiful.

I think what these generations are saying to the church is this: Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." It's ok to not have the answers. Don't take huge complex issues or ideas and boil them down to 3 easy steps, or 5 keys to this, or some funny clever acrostic. Share your opinions, share your journey as you've come to understand something, but don't be so quick to package it, and mass-market it. Younger generations love to hear your story, but they want their own story too. They want to learn and experience these things for themselves. They are eager for this. As the church we need to provide opportunities for people to explore, to ask questions, to grow and to wrestle with deep, difficult ideas. And if they leave asking more questions, that's ok too. Isn't that what we want? I'd rather someone come searching and leave with a hunger for more, than to have them come with real questions and leave with a bookmark. Let's not trivialize God.


I think this may be one of the most intriguing parts of the conversation I have with people. I think that Christianity used to be so packaged with other beliefs that people began to think Christian = A list of dos and do nots. I am proud to be part of a faith community (whatever you call it) that does not think we have it all together. It is good just to love people the way that Jesus loved.

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