Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My changing faith -- an intro

So a while ago I mentioned that a good chunk of my religous beliefs, especially core tenets such as salvation and redemption, are quite different than most of the people at my church. And probably quite different than most people in my family, although it's not something I've really brought up before.

Several people have asked what in the world I'm talking about, so over the next few months I'll share some things from time to time. Before I do, though, it's extremely important to make a few points:

  1. I'm not sharing to preach to anyone, or to change anybody else's mind about issues of faith. The purpose is simply to share my journey.
  2. Jesus once said that each person must "carry his cross" to follow him. I've had to give up some things and carry my "cross" to find what I was looking for. You may not have the same cross. Each person has to find their own. So you may not have to give up the same things I did. And that's cool with me.
  3. I have an easy yet powerful way to test my always-shifting ideas on spiritual things -- does my new thought make me a better person?

The third point has a great example from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey tells the story of a time when he saw a man and his two sons on a subway. The boys were totally out of control, running up and down the subway car, yelling and growling, and causing a major disruption for the rest of the passengers. The father just sat there, oblivious to his rowdy sons and seemingly apathetic about the whole scene.

Covey walked up to the father, ready to give his two cents on good parenting. When he asked the father what was going on, this was the answer:

"We just came from the hospital. My wife, the boys' mother, had been sick for a while and she died today. We don't really know how to react or what to do. We're kind of lost, especially me."

How do you think Mr. Covey's behavior changed towards this man? Immediately he felt a huge wave of compassion, and tried to help with the boys however he could. He didnt' have to focus on his own behavior or his attitude -- all of his reponses flowed naturally from the new perception of this man who had just lost his wife, and the boys who had lost their mother. In 10 seconds he changed from frustration and anger to genuine compassion.

That story sums up what has happened to me over the last two years. I used to focus a lot on my habits and attitude, yet always failed in my attempts to have true compassion for people. I faked it well, though.

Since then my perspective has changed, and with it the attitudes and behaviors have changed all by themselves. I didn't have to work on them. That's my hint that this track is a good one for me.


Hal Johnson said...

Good post. When folks write or speak of spiritual matters, I tend to pay attention more when they tell me what they're FOR rather than who or what they're AGAINST.

Maybe, with me, it all stems from a vacation bible camp I attended at the age of eleven. A pastor from another church spoke to us daily about how messed up the Catholic and Morman churches were. Kinda turned me off, along with all of those rules: no long hair for men, no short hair for women. Smoking was presented as a sin, drinking a beer was presented as a sin.

Heck, I haven't set foot in a Southern Baptist Church in forty years, but to this day, I still feel guilty when I make love standing up: after all, somebody might think I'm dancing.

James W said...

I am glad that you do not just believe what the church tells you. They even misinterpret the Bible. God's word is the only true answer. Also the Bible even states:

Deuteronomy 12:32

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

LOL that was pretty funny about the making love standing up hal!!

~aj~ said...

Can't wait to read more about this topic! I'm in complete agreement with you so far! :)

Redlefty said...

Thanks, gang. This topic is very dear to my heart but also uncomfortable to share.

I've been reading a lot of Romans 14 lately, where Paul basically says, "The point is to find your peace. Don't judge where your neighbor finds theirs. But also don't let your own path to peace cause others to stumble."

Hopefully I won't do that.

MamaRose said...

I'm like AJ--I don't know 'what's coming up', yet, but I DO agree with you TOTALLY SO FAR!!!!!!!!!!


That's pretty specific & since no one else can be rewarded or pay our 'penalty' for right or wrong, it ALL comes down to EACH ONE of us!!!!
And, it IS easier to FIRST change our minds/hearts & THEN our habits/life patterns will change 'on their owns', almost!!!!!
And, it's a more geniune change, too! Hopefully, we ALL keep learning & changing & GETTING BETTER & more mature in Christ every day/year we age/are on Earth!

And, Hal's 'joke' about having sex standing up & DANCING was ALSO told in the church of Christ when we were growing up/in the 60's!!!!

Hal Johnson said...

"But also don't let your own path to peace cause others to stumble." Man, if only more folks accepted that wisdom.

Mamarose, I told that joke to one of my uncles, a retired Navy chaplain. Although military chaplains are by necessity non-denominational for the most part, he came from a Southern Baptist background. At first, I thought he might hit me. Then he doubled over laughing. (Luckily, military chaplains tend to be sort of well-rounded.)

FishrCutB8 said...

Continually work out your faith with fear and trembling...this scares me not at all. The people who frighten me are the ones who think they have everything figured out and decide to stop growing, learning and reading.