When You No Longer Want To Be A Christian
Today's Daily Devo is going to take a different kind of tone, and it's intended for a very specific audience, and that audience just might include you.
If you're intrigued, I'm glad. If you're confused, try to trust me. If you're not awake, get some coffee. I've already had a couple of cups myself.
Here's the thing, the hardest part about calling myself a Christian nowadays is that as a descriptor of who I actually am, that word is doing pretty poor work right about now.
In fact, the word "Christian" is a loaded term in our current culture---one that has a plethora of possible connotations and meanings.
Further, when you tell someone you are a Christian, they will receive that information based on their own understanding of what a Christian is all about, which for most people nowadays comes from the interwebs, social media, and the like.
And we all know how even-handed and informative those sources can be, right?
I've had more than my fair share of conversations over the past few years with people who have left the Church and walked away from the Christian faith--conversations that revealed their pain, disappointment, disillusionment, bitterness, and even outright rage at Christians and the Church.
It would be easy at this point to place the blame on and issue an indictment of all of those people who say that they are followers of Jesus, but who don't seem to be actually following Jesus. Too easy, in fact.
The truth of the matter is, almost all of us who say that we are Christians don't really follow Jesus all that closely, and we tend to love to point fingers at others rather than deal with our own junk.
So here's the reality of the situation... If you were one of those who walked away from the Church and the Christian faith, you probably have been treated by your former faith communities, and even friends and loved ones from those communities as though there was something wrong with you, that you failed, that you were faithless.
And maybe those signals served to confirm for you that walking away from Christianity was the right thing to do.
You need to hear this: You didn't fail, and you weren't faithless. In fact, you were being more true to what God desires from all of us when it comes to our relationship with God. You were being honest and real, despite what it might cost you.
Anne Lamott once wrote:
My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words and I don't like you at all right now and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said.
If that statement seems shocking to you, then you need to ask yourself why. I suspect it has more to do with things you've been trained to think or to say, and less to do with what you feel deep inside where your questions linger.
But if you're a person who has either walked away from the Christian faith, or you've been mulling it pretty hard, I need you to do something for me:
Receive the message within that quote as a gift of grace, and know that you are right where you need to be in order to take the next step in your relationship with God. Because I suspect what you walked away from needed to be left---at least for you.
Transcend what used to be, and include what you need, but move forward in joy knowing that there's something more for you ahead in your journey.
Getting real and honest about your relationship with God can (if you let it) strengthen that relationship in ways you probably never imagined.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.