My journey of faith has been a long one. I don’t ever remember not believing in God. I was brought up in the Catholic tradition, with regular mass, Sundays, Saint Days, days of obligation, weddings, funerals christenings, confirmations the whole kit and caboodle. From an early age I was an altar boy assisting the priests in the celebration of Mass. I recall a number of priests in my life and not one of them ever did anything to harm me. A couple of them made significant impacts upon my life, at one stage I considered a vocation in the priest hood but puberty took care of that! (I can hear the howls of my friends now as they laugh themselves stupid at that revelation)!
Anyway I digress, or do I? As I grew older my journey began to morph. I met a very traditional priest whilst at youth group and the subject of Baptism came up. He sincerely believed that if a baby had not been baptised and they died they would not go to heaven, I couldn’t accept such a rigid doctrine and did not and cannot believe that God who is the alpha of love would condemn an innocent. I do not believe it today. Now this is not a discussion or a moan session about Catholicism, but more on that later.
I had an encounter where I realised that faith was very personal and it involved a personal relationship with the creator. Thus began my journey with what I will call contemporary Christianity. I don’t want to give it any other label as labels are often unhelpful. In this journey of mine I have explored many different flavours of Christianity. From very conservative to what some people may consider outlandish. Some of this exploration has been about finding a place for myself, life, marriage and the church, some of it has been about just not being satisfied with life.
I have explored leadership, been an evangelist, street preacher, deacon, even an urban missionary. Seeking approval mainly drove this behaviour (except of the urban mission work). The approval of my peers, pastors and partners drove this. This attempt to gain approval often came at cost, subjugating my beliefs and desires in an attempt to become somebody who I was never going to be. There was this ideal of who a good Christian Man should be that is perpetuated by many people and I would never fit that role. I have a couple of handicaps that prevent me from ever fulfilling that kind of stereotype.
I won’t tell you here what I don’t believe in because I don’t want to influence you in finding our own way. I will tell what I believe and fortunately for you as I become older my list has become shorter and shorter. My belief these days is really limited to this I believe that I am a creation of God and that he loves me. I do not believe in any man made creeds, religions or otherwise. I may adhere to them and try to live my life by some of them and have an understanding of how my faith is worked out in my life from them. I believe that goodness is not enough.
I know some of my friends will take issue with this and they are welcome to, and perhaps I may even discuss it with them, the emphasis is on discussion. I currently don’t go to church, just don’t fit locally anywhere any more and it is too hard right now to find somewhere I am comfortable. I don’t have the emotional energy left in me to open my self to truly be in communion with others and I just don’t do shallow relationships any more. Ask me how I am I will tell you even if it is uncomfortable.
I try to live a moral life if for no other reason than it is a lot easier! I stand up for justice, rise against oppression and rail against the religion of individualism that I think is tearing our society apart.
I try to be a good dad, brother, friend. I am painfully aware of my own shortcomings, the penance for being a reflective man I guess. I do believe in an afterlife I have no notion of what that may be like and I am not too worried about that at all. In fact I am not too worried about all the things I don’t know about anymore. I still wonder about it but just don’t get bent because beyond the fact that God loves me and that I have a relationship with him that I think he understands and accepts me as I am I don’t need to know anymore. Is that apostacy or heresy? Perhaps, I guess I will find out one day. Is that a crisis of faith? Don’t think so I am quite secure and I don’t need anyone else to agree with me. All I hope is that you think about your own journey look around your world and ask yourself if that could be the result of a big bang?