There are many good, well-intentioned people who are trying to do what they believe God wishes for them to do. I know this. I try to remember this, that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We just sometimes have different viewpoints on what that is, for ourselves, and for others. A friend and co-youth advisor led a great youth group meeting on Sunday that helped me to understand this more clearly. Thanks, Gary. I'm quite unschooled in the differences between how different Christians faiths believe, so what I write here is my attempt at understanding this. I question my own faith details sometimes, which isn't a bad thing to do, and I try to learn more, and I think I know how I believe in regards to many specific things
See, sometimes people put down others of a different version of a Christian faith, or who hold a different belief, and it's as if many forget that we are all one in Christ. I know that we are. At Amy's funeral mass this fall, her welcoming church had a notice that basically said that Catholics and non-Catholics can't share communion as we're not the same. To me, that logic doesn't make sense. I support them making decisions for parishioners within their church, and this is one of their core beliefs which I can respect. I don't see their stated logic fitting in with my understanding of this gift from God, that that all of us are believers and one in Christ, no longer separated by nationality or race. I actually believe similarly to many of my Catholic friends in other regards, and many of them have quite differing politics from each other, so please note that this entry isn't about them per se, just using this as one example. This was at least done with attempts of respect and sensitivity. I think when people start assuming that ones claimed faith assumes what ones political standpoint is, and putting others down due to this, that there is a problem.
See, I'm tired of people assuming my politics. I'm tired of having my faith questioned. I even read some information after the last Presidential election, written by a Reverand or a church, stating that all of those who voted for the Democratic candidate were followers of the anti-Christ. Um, huh? Since when does ones religious faith assume ones political party? What does this man know about my personal relationship, or lack of one, with God?
My brother, a registered Independent, tends to vote Republican. We talked of each others reasons once. Believe me, his reasons for voting Republican had zero to do with spiritual beliefs, or a fight for return for religious morals, lol not him, and were primarily motivated by financial reasons and his logic that fighting somewhere else might keep terrorists from our soils HERE. I did vote primarily Democratic, as each of the candidates seemed to care more about the people, and about our environment God so kindly created for us to be stewards of.
I'm certainly not perfect, nor do I believe that I can become perfect just that I am called to try to do what God wants of me, and be as Christ-like as I am able to. Even if I don't want to and, admittedly, I don't always. Apparently there are some Christians who believe that they can become as if spiritual entities themselves? This was just touched upon, not gone in depth about, and new information to me. Some Christians believe that the Bible is thee only document to use, and that it is to be taken very literally, that the Bible says that the world was created in 7 days, so therefore, it took 7 days. Some Christians (like me) believe that there is allegory and symbolism written in the Bible as well as literalism. I love the Book of Revelations and it's imagery, and discussed how exact, how literal all of that is intended once upon a time. Some apparently find the Bible, and even Jesus, more as guides and a nice historical prophecy. Some Christians believe in a conversion experience, and some that a conversion decision works.
Do we all share a belief in the basic elements of Christianity? Sure, or we wouldn't be able to call ourselves Christians, at least, not accurately.
A big difference is seen in how different Christian groups believe a Christian is supposed to then carry their faith into the world. Seems that at least one type of Christian believes in staying within their own world of people who believe just the same as they do, some more strongly than others. It can be supportive to fellowship with others. I can understand this. I don't quite think that 100% of thisis what God is calling me to do, anyway. He sometimes associated with prostitues and tax collectors, and frankly, I've known two nice prostitutes (even if I abhor the entire idea of that "profession") and only one actual tax collector, but many many accountants:) Yes, we can be tempted. And yet, how would one spread the word? Some Christians believe evangelism is a very strong part of how they are to live out their faith. I'm not good at that personally. I'm a quiet type:) Or, do I stereotype? Hmm. Anyway, my personal belief is more to utilize ones gifts, and that not all are given that gift.
The biggest difficulty I see as roiling our country and dividing Christians from Christians, other than when people fail to remember that we are all Christians and hence brothers and sisters, is between the groups of Christians who believe in individualized service / non-social involvement, and those who believe that they are called upon to serve others as part of their witness to Christ. Or, maybe sometimes the politics is the same we just carry it out differently.
Personally, I believe in the latter. I believe in a loving God, who will get angry sure, that we are all unworthy of the grace bestowed upon us, that we are to respect others for who and what they are, first and foremost as fellow creatures of God and human beings. Love our neighbors, do unto others. In the ways that we can, in the ways we are able to. To me, it does not matter the race or nationality or "tongue," and of course is with disregard to artificial geographical lines. God created the world, God created us all, first and foremost as His children. (BTW, just to point out, I am not condoning any illegal activity.) What hateful e-mails I get forwarded sometimes, from Christians!, that shock me, sometimes even full of prejudicial assumptions.
God is greater and bigger than politics. I link you to a journal entry that I believe explains some of this very well Restore our Christmas and her "letter from God." Love each other. Do what we can, we don't have to be suppressed or anything, we have the right to our faith and beliefs, too, even if one feels called to politics because of it. Just, don't go hating over the petty things. Don't let the devil interfere and divide us over these things.
Alright, now for all the hate comments! oy. Ah, well, they'll be drowned out. Tonight I'm excited to help out our youth pastor again with his every few month concert event. High school bands come and play at our church. Only high schoolers or older can get in. It's a huge outreach event, and, a safe place for high schoolers to go out and have fun for a night. Mostly it's harder rock and alternative, some grunge, etc. It's loud and it can be rough. Oh, all the lyrics must follow guidelines and rules and such, no doubt. Sometimes the bands even have a couple good songs ;) Last time, after a band member signed their cd "to food mom," (I'd helped with snacks that night), I saw another boy walking by. I'd not seen him before. He wasn't from our congregation. I forget his exact words. Basically, he said something like, "This church is cool." It's really fantastic to serve God by helping any youth feel even the tiniest bit more connected. Some who like this genre of music don't fit well in "the mainstream" and hence sometimes don't even believe they'd fit in well in a church. Hoping to see the older brother of M's good friend, Md, too, as M invited him, thinking he'd like it, and he has a band so may wish to play sometime. It's a night about music, and God and Christ and the Holy Spirit, and more music, and some food, and offers of earplugs to the adults, and it works without anyone assuming my politics, nor I assuming theirs:)