Are You a Christian?

I grew up and still live in the Bible Belt (at least I think N. Florida is part of the BB).  I’d say that the majority of my life I’ve been a confused blob in this pool of Christianity or even more specific Southern Baptist-ism.

When I was little we didn’t go to church but all the kids I cared about at school did.  It was something that was discussed in class.  People would ask “What church do you go to?”  I didn’t have an answer.  I felt embarrassed and more importantly left out.  When we did start going to church I had trouble listening and engaging.  I’d missed the fundamentals and frankly a few of the “cool kids” at my church were down right mean.  But I lived in the culture where the definition of a Christian was a person who is both good and right.  It was a world where teachers, doctors, therapists, and grocery store clerks earned all sorts of extra brownie points for wearing their love of Jesus on their sleeves.  A world where “Christian” could be used as a synonym for a number of positive adjectives.  (“Well that’s not very Christian of her.”)

To be honest I think there was only a brief time in my life where I was a real Christian.  After that I dusted off the old hat and put it on only at certain times.  Like for instance when someone asked “Are you a Christian?”  I didn’t necessarily believe that I was lying.  When I filled out the registration papers before giving birth to Bella, I checked the “Christian” box.  Mark questioned me on that one.  More or less I thought if we’re not Christian, what are we? We have to be something.  There wasn’t a box for I Don’t Know.

The other day I was involved in a conversation where the yardstick of Christianity came up.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this person would love me any less if they questioned my status and discovered my answer.  The fact is in the world I live in, the world I know, most people assume that all the other people are Christians.  And when it comes to the people they love and consider friends or family it’s unfathomable that those folks would be anything but Christians.

6 years ago or 10 years ago if anyone asked me if I was a Christian, I would have said yes.  If pressed further I might have mentioned how my Aunt Madie brought me to Jesus when I was about 12-years-old.  That would have been my out loud answer.  Inwardly I would have said that I questioned and even doubted God’s existence.  I would have said that I’d be happy to never see another church in my life and that the second anyone mentions that word I look for the nearest exit.  But even inwardly I still might not have said NO, I’m not a Christian.

Today I believe strongly in something that is bigger than myself.  I use the word God at times although that word is filled with all kinds of charged emotions.   What I believe in is indescribable and in my attempts to explain it, I never seem to get it right for everyone.  It is something that can only be found and understood through each person individually.  I go to church now.  I love church now.  I go to be with like-minded souls.  I go to hear stories and inspirational words.  But when I want to be with God, I go into silence.  I listen to my breath and I wait.

So if you were to stop me on the street and ask me if I am a Christian, quite frankly the answer is no.

I am a seeker of love and truth, who wishes only to fulfill my highest potential in this life and on this planet.

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13 thoughts on “Are You a Christian?

  1. Renee July 12, 2010 / 7:18 am

    This is a very difficult subject for me, especially living here (and, YES! North Florida is the BB, although Tallahassee is more liberal than the rest of the area, so we’re a bit insulated.). My father’s family is Jewish. I wasn’t raised with any organized religion and the closest description to my own beliefs is agnostic.

    I often hear people say they know someone else is good and trustworthy (often in a business situation) because said person “is a Christian.” Because, you know, someone going to church every Sunday makes him honest and good.

    And even more difficult to hear is things like this: I know a divorced couple who were very involved in drugs for a lot of years. The wife was Jewish and eventually converted to Christianity and she’s sober now. The husband’s family went on and on in front of me about how her conversion is what saved her from the drugs. As if Jews have no morals or self-control. I don’t know if that’s what they meant, but I suspect it is. All I could think was that their good, Christian relative was a drug addict and not one of my Jewish relatives was.

    Sorry to go on and on, but this just seriously touches a nerve with me. Spirituality, to me, is an incredibly personal thing and I don’t think the religion you choose defines your character. The people who joined the KKK and burned crosses on lawns and lynched and tarred and feathered people simply for having a different color of skin could be found in church on Sunday, too. And they would say they were Christian. And their neighbors would consider them good and trustworthy.

    The best Christians I’ve known have been the ones who were humble about it.

    • lesleehorner July 12, 2010 / 8:44 am

      Yep, Renee. It is very upsetting. And I have to admit when I woke up this morning I thought about the post and regretted publishing for a minute. I’ve just flushed my dreams of being president down the toilet. 😉

      I’d be willing to bet though that many people use the label like me, as some sort of safety net and because there is no other one that seems to fit.

      • Renee July 12, 2010 / 8:46 am

        I’ve read that a lot of political candidates almost fake their faith in order to get votes. And if the people running aren’t really as religious as they claim, are the people voting for them really that religious? Or do they just say they are?

  2. Jenny Defx July 12, 2010 / 8:18 am

    The I Don’t Know mention had me laughing out loud. This whole Christianity thing centers around Jesus and the concept he is the one and ONLY “saviour”, right? Frankly, I don’t have issues with this Jesus guy. He seemed to show the rest of us how to Love and be at Peace with ourselves. I think a lot of what he said has been taken way out of context and far too seriously. It’s his “followers” that I have issues with. Like Gandhi said, “I like your Jesus, but I don’t like you Christians”. When I seek and listen to that Something Within, I treat others and myself much better than I ever could by following a man-made religion.

    • lesleehorner July 12, 2010 / 8:33 am

      Thanks Jenny. You accidentally put your comment up twice, I just deleted one of them. Hope it wasn’t the one linked to getting a reply if you did that. So yes, it is based on Jesus being the one and only savior. Here’s the way I look at it. Jesus is the guy who pointed and instead of looking at the place he pointed everyone stared at his finger. He came to show the way not be the way. Although I love Jesus (or the teachings associated with him), I don’t think he is what the religion says he is.

  3. Dawn July 12, 2010 / 8:31 am

    Thank you for writing this, for sharing this. I am experiencing this in my life. It was really hard for me to come to terms with 10 years ago and a journey to be able to accept it after having a really good experience growing up in the church. But the reality is that my beliefs outgrew the church and I find calling God “Great Mystery” fits better as I prefer to worship outside or watching my children sleep. I haven’t been asked since deciding how I would answer, but I’ve practiced the conversation in my mind to prepare myself. No, I’m not a Christian but I do believe in a higher power and the power of prayer.

    • lesleehorner July 12, 2010 / 8:48 am

      It’s really quite amazing that I was just replying to a comment that I had woken with fear about this post, regretting it a little. After I published that comment I saw your and you have made me feel so much better. So, no matter what other responses I receive I am so glad that it spoke to you and perhaps validated your own experience a little.

      Good luck and thank you for sharing!

      Leslee

  4. David Moulton July 12, 2010 / 9:22 am

    All Christians are not good, and all Atheists are not bad. All the main religions are based on the premise that God is Love. So as long as people love themselves, and love their fellow man, they really don’t need a label.
    As Lennon and McCartney said, “All you need is love, and love is all there is.”
    I try to live my life by two simple rules: 1.) Hurt no one by thought, word, or deed. 2.) I take responsibility for my own happiness.
    If we dropped all religions and lived by these two simple rules, it would be the end to all trouble and turmoil in the world; no one would get hurt, and everyone would be happy
    David

    • lesleehorner July 12, 2010 / 10:07 am

      Thank you David for another insightful comment. Have you ever read any Joel S. Goldsmith? He is one of my favorite spiritual teachers and teaches at a level beyond organized religion. (I started to say he was anti-organized religion but his stuff is too loving to be anti anything). The labels only separate us and it really is more valuable to come together.

  5. SageBliss July 13, 2010 / 11:32 pm

    I grew up attending a Christian church regularly. At that time in my life, there was a lot that I was taught that I did not believe, thus making me question not only my Christianity, but also my belief in God. I was frightened by my own doubts and feared my thoughts would send me straight to hell! If you would have asked me back then if I was a Christian, my answer surely would have been no.

    What I did not understand at the time, but of which I have a much better grasp now, is that the problem with Christian teachings, and any other teachings for that matter, is not with Jesus or God, but in the inadequecy of our words, our language, to properly describe those things that transcend words. Spirituality and God must be experienced, not explained. As Joseph Campbell said, “Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery.”

    If you were to ask me now if I am a Christian, my answer would be, “Yes! But I am a lot of other things too.”

    • lesleehorner July 14, 2010 / 11:57 am

      Thank you very much for this insightful and quite powerful comment. We get too caught up in the word of God when the true Word of God is in the experience, which is always indescribable.

  6. nats July 16, 2010 / 5:43 pm

    hi leslee
    seeker is the word that i use to describe myself.
    i guess people like labels, it makes them feel they have some insight into your value system; they feel kinship with those who have similar beliefs. i’ve found that i dont knows make people feel confused & uncomfortable. they have to get to know you, ask tricky questions, face their own doubts, instead of simply assuming things about you due to your religion.
    nats

  7. Jade Fisher July 17, 2010 / 2:32 pm

    Loved this post!

    I too can resonate with the label of Christian, especially because when I think Christian, I get the i-vote-republican-love-guns-hate-gay-people-streetcorner-preacher-evangelical picture in my mind, which is SO not me. The best compliments i have received in the past few years is after knowing someone for a 6 or 8 months they say “wow, I had no idea you were a Christian, you aren’t like any other christian I have ever met.” That would have scared me as a kid (because it meant I wasn’t looking/acting like other “Christians,”) but now I take it as the best compliment ever.

    And I have found a way of genuinely answering the ‘are you a christian?” question. I say yes, because i am. They hardly ever ask after that: are you buddhist or pagan or agnostic or fill-in-the-blank (to which I could also answer yes). I love the question “is jesus the only way to heaven as a savior.” Of course I believe that Jesus is AND I believe that there are other ways. Nobody ever asks the 2nd part of the question 😛 When I have told close friends about this they have wondered how that works and I just say “well, how is God 3 and 1 at the same time? or how is Jesus fully god and fully man?” Christianity is full of paradoxes and unanswerables, so why can’t I believe it’s the ONLY way and that there are OTHER ways, and even perhaps that it is NOT the way?

    Food for thought, and now I’m rambling…

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