I am a Christian. In the last few months, I’ve come to the place where I can reaffirm that commitment with enthusiasm. I’m not, however, the same kind of Christian I was earlier in my life.
As a high school student, I devoted my life to the service of Christ and his kingdom. Throughout the years, I have been both an ardent student and a conscientious teacher of theology and the biblical text.
About eight years ago, some dramatic changes in my circumstances, over which I had virtually no control, forced me to rethink everything I thought I believed. I concluded that I had been wrong about some things. As a result, I gained a new perspective on the Christian faith and its application to my life and the world around me.
I have alluded to these changes several times during this month as I have published a blog post every day. In the future I expect to be much more specific about the nature of this change and what brought it about. I will do that, not to be provocative or controversial but to be helpful, if I can be, to others facing similar situations.
Make no mistake. Change is difficult, because the system is rigged. It favors those who become more entrenched in their beliefs and assumptions with the passing of time. It works against those who consider possibilities that shake up the status quo.
There is irony in all of this. Nobody in history has ever been more of an agent of change than Jesus, and yet, among his present-day followers, those who change little appear stable and confident. Those who make significant and substantive change are regarded with suspicion. Progress and growth require a willingness to change, but change agents always pay a price. Again, Jesus is the prime example.
I hope I can say this gently and without malice or self-righteousness. I am not a child. You are welcome to disagree with me, but please don’t patronize me. Whatever I believe, you can be certain I have considered it carefully and from a wide range of perspectives.
Please don’t lecture me as though I am an adolescent who is pushing the boundaries but will eventually grow up and make the right decisions. I may not be right, but I am certainly not ignorant of the options available. Beyond that, I am becoming more and more aware that choices yield consequences, not all of them pleasant.
For example, I’m learning that the kinds of things I used to say about other people, believing I was simply being faithful and “telling it like it is,” are now being said about me. I would make sweeping statements, based on what I thought I knew about the inner thoughts and motivations of people who differed with me on key issues. But I was wrong. I was wrong to say those things because I was wrong about the inner thoughts and motivations of those who saw things differently.
I know this is true, because I see a lot of things differently these days. And many people who maintain the positions I once held are accusing me of abandoning the faith. And it hurts. For two reasons.
First, I haven’t abandoned the faith. I am more committed to faithful discipleship than I have ever been. And second, I realize how much I must have hurt others by my wrong assumptions and insensitive comments in days past. I am so sorry.
In the midst of my genuine and heartfelt repentance, however, I sense a new energy within me. I am less fearful of losing the familiar things that had made me feel secure. That fear is gradually being replaced by the confidence that comes from believing it’s okay to be uncertain about things.
On the other hand, uncertainty and doubt mean that I need to connect with people who can partner with me in my search. I haven’t yet found the community with whom I can live and serve and share my new (and liberating) perspective, except in writing.
I’m a boomer. My generation thinks I am addled and those younger are skeptical that an old dog really can learn any new tricks. Still, it’s a new day, and I’m grateful for health and family and a good mind that is still eager to learn.
I am at a very different place from where I expected to be midway through my seventh decade of life. But I think I like it here. It’s a good place from which to set out on the final leg of this kingdom pilgrimage.
Soli Deo Gloria.