26
Apr
10

My Crisis of Faith – From Seed to Blooming Tree

It started in church one Sunday. There was a technical difficulty during worship, a missing piece. The worship pastor asked us all to bow our heads in a prayer he eloquently led. Amen, heads up, eyes open, order restored on the stage.

It was a seed.

How often are we led in prayers that are less of a plea to the Lord than they are curtains for a very human pastoral staff to rally behind? I began to wonder about the humanity, the efforts they made for the appearance of seamless perfection. It is not the imperfection of that humanity that nurtured this seed. It was the effort to cover it up. Mistrust began to grow from my church’s inability to admit imperfection.

I love my church, and the pastoral staff has always exhibited the utmost wisdom and integrity, so it’s possible that this little plant rooted in such shallow soil could have quickly died, but then Pat Robertson spoke. If you remember, he blamed the Haitians for their sorrow after the earthquake, saying that it was God’s judgement. My little plant sprouted so fast, the economy turned green with envy. Then missionaries went to Haiti and stole children, assuming they were better fit to raise them, apparently. More leaves on my little plant.

Then I watched a debate unfold over a Super Bowl ad. Christians fired off in support of Focus on the Family, decrying everything that had ever stood in their way. I love the American Family, but it’s time to take note that married parents, 2.5 kids, and a golden retriever is not realistic for most Americans. Though the ad itself was positive and not controversial, the message was lost in the debate. Both sides were cruel, but there is a real problem when Christians are cruel in the name of the Lord. My little plant leafed out all over the place.

Then it grew a branch. The Catholic Church chose to stand with those priests accused of the most heinous crimes of pedophilia. What cruelty from an institution that should be based on hope and love? Jesus Himself said that the punishment for a man who leads His flock astray is beyond that which anyone else will experience. If the Church stands behind these “men” in the name of forgiveness, I appreciate that. But forgiveness and trust are very different. Forgiveness does not imply restoration, as illustrated by the way this same church treats divorcees, homosexuals, and those of other faiths. To allow these priests to continue to represent what is right and holy uncovers gross dishonesty that I simply cannot abide. It has become nearly impossible for me to watch a public display of religion without skepticism. The branches are in the way.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches,“ but I’m pretty sure he meant something entirely different. He meant that we should feed from Him and grow like Him, strong and fruitful. But an interesting thing happens when a person accepts Jesus as his Savior. Nothing. Loved ones still get sick. There still isn’t enough money. Tragedies still headline the nightly news. When we hear of salvation, the message is confusing. It is disheartening and discourages real growth in faith. We have fed from soil polluted by humanity and grown into weak hybrids. Then, we have taken it upon ourselves to save the world, to fuse it to our hybrid trees. Since we recognized that the tree didn’t look right, we tried to coerce everyone into being like us. We forgot about the branch entirely as we promised our own cross-bred salvation borne of judgement. This judgement and coercion is coming back to us now as our great nation dies from within, suffering from the fatal wounds of deep division.

Jesus promise of salvation is simply to save us from ourselves, a need we don’t always recognize. When God created us, he granted us the greatest gift, far greater than anything He gave even to the angels who dwell with Him in Heaven – Free Will. But, like anything great, it is this gift that leads to our demise. Within free will rests ego, greed, self, and everything else that divides the human from the divine. Thus, it is that very free will that Jesus asks us to lay down for Him in obedience. Not a popular pulpit message, bu to be free from the trappings of humanity is a gift, indeed. What we do with it is where our free will lies. Do we continue to live the same lives, resting on the laurels of this forgiveness? Or do we accept the brevity of our salvation and walk alongside others, trudging through the furrows of humanity?

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2 Responses to “My Crisis of Faith – From Seed to Blooming Tree”


  1. 1 Cathrine
    April 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Wow. I have felt this way about religion for a very long time. I prefer not to be a part of it. I have friends who feel the same way even though they go to church and believe in Jesus/God. Why do bad things happen? Because that is our world. Do we need religion (and the people in power in those churches?) to tell us why it happened and what to do about it? No, we do not. We can help one another and live good lives without their hypocrisy.

    You can have a personal belief in God and relationship with him without the churches,if that is what you choose.

    • 2 aimiesuzyj
      April 27, 2010 at 3:51 am

      I totally agree. The purpose of the church is community. There is a lot of importance in sharing with people who hold the same belief system, but it is crucial that we hold the group that is our church to a standard. I kind of picked on my church in this post, but when the pastors teach, they encourage love, positivity, and action (true service), so I am comfortable there because I feel like the teaching is right on. It is so easy to miss it, though. It is so easy to say we’re not judgmental and judge the people we think are at the EXACT same time without even realizing it. Everyone, Christian or not, really needs to do a gut-check and look at their speech and their motives. The organized church has done more harm to the name of the Lord than any other force. Jesus is amazing. His message of love is amazing. When I said in my post that nothing happens when a person accepts him, I was referring to all those pastors who promise that “That One Prayer” will fix everything. The benefit comes through discovering Him and working to emulate Him. Sorry – didn’t mean to preach, just a topic close to my heart. Thanks for reading, Cathrine. I love these “talks.”


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