My faith is in an exciting place right now. However, if you were to describe my current state of faith to the me of 10 years ago, I would have freaked out.
10 years ago, I was halfway through bible college living in Las Vegas beginning a summer internship at a large, successful, exciting church. The semester before, I had just finished classes like “Basic Bible Doctrine 2,” and “Christian Ethics.” I had a binder of notes and pages of writing on those subjects, and was in a place where I felt comfortable with the answers I had been provided by my ministry education. Wanna know what God thinks about pre-marital sex? No prob, I have a list of verses for that. Wanna know what Heaven is going to be like? Don’t worry, I have lecture notes that explain everything.
I was confident, stable, safe, and happy. Jesus was something that was neatly organized in my mind. I had found satisfactory answers to all of life’s tough questions. At least the questions I had encountered at the age of 20, after having lived in a singular, homogenous culture for my entire life.
If the me of today, significantly more tattooed and 40 pounds heavier, were to show up in front of the me back then, and proceed to tell younger me how I believe that God is a profound mystery that I can’t explain, and how my conception of Heaven cannot possibly even scratch the surface of God's infinite imagination, and that sometimes I wonder if the creation account is metaphorical, and that I have questions about the historical reliability of some of the stories in the bible (like the flood, and Jonah, and Job, and Exodus) and that I have more questions about what Jesus was really getting at then ever before, and that I went through a stage of several years of vegetarianism (which would be the most inflammatory revelation of them all), younger me would probably punch older me right in the face, and then be confused when I didn't fight him back.
The me of 10 years ago wouldn’t be ready to hear why the me of today considers my current state of faith much more exciting than my faith of 10 years ago.
The me of today is no longer held in check by the delusion of answers that work. While the answers of my younger faith were satisfying to me, they had also stopped my growth. Thats the thing about answers. When you get them, you tend to stop moving. Questions are what move us forward. Questions cause us to look deeper into who God is and what that means about who we are. Questions are what we have at the outset of an adventure. You know the story is over when all your questions have been answered and when all the mysteries have been explained.
I find the story much more compelling than the explanation.
Early on in my Christian life, I thought that the point of reading the Bible and studying theology was to come to an understanding of God. I just don’t think that its possible for a human being to achieve an understanding of God. God is too big, too mysterious, and our language breaks down in an attempt to explain God in a way that we can understand. Therefore, I’ve given up trying to understand God. One of the most unexplainable things about God however, is the reality that while I can’t understand God, I can know God. Theology, and biblical scholarship, and liturgy, and spiritual discipline, and participating in a church community may not ever get us to a comprehensive understanding of God, but it can help us to know God. I have a story, and a human lens through which to see something about God that I can understand. I have Jesus. So I have abandoned my certainty in almost everything, in exchange for a quest toward faithful questioning through the lens of Jesus’ love and compassion for everyone, and it’s awesome. The biggest reason I’m so excited about FCQ is because it is an invitation for all of you come with us on the journey.
“Science” Mike McHargue is helping me along that path. His podcast “Ask Science Mike” and his work with The Liturgists (theliturgists.com) have given me some valuable resources in my quest for a deeper relationship with God through asking good questions. I think you will find what Mike has to say, at the very least interesting, and quite possibly life changing.
Get your tickets to hear Mike speak on September 10th at ForefrontNYC.com/FCQ