It always starts out innocent enough. A friend posts a good question on Facebook – someone that you know is looking for an honest, calm answer. You decide to give your view on it, you get a few likes, and all seems to be good. Because you were nice and encouraging about it, you think it is a win/win situation, even though you might have discussed a very divisive issue.
But then, that person reads your comments and decides you are a ____ (fill in the blank with any number of unkind descriptors) for “butchering” the Bible.
You try to calmly describe your thoughts, but get met with a barrage of random scriptures… what about this one? How could this one mean that? This one clearly says you are wrong.
Oh, how I hate that word: clearly. It was a perfectly cool word until the Church weaponized it.
You try to explain that you are just attempting to be open about what the Bible says and what it really doesn’t say. You don’t want to give the impression that the Bible says something that it really doesn’t. You are trying to have the utmost respect for what the Good Book actually says.
But that doesn’t seem to mean anything. You have said the wrong thing. You have not validated their opinion on what the Bible is really saying. No matter how you try to explain your position. Because the crazy thing is that you both actually agree on the overall principle. But you just don’t want to demonize people that have a different interpretation of scripture. You know enough about the ambiguities of some scriptures to know that both sides have valid interpretations. You don’t think someone is just “being ridiculous” because they don’t see it your way.
Because ultimately, that is where you are going wrong in their eyes. You allow for other valid interpretations. You allow for gray areas. You allow for things that aren’t so easy to explain. You embrace mystery and faith.
But, really – what good is faith if everything is already so clear?
Those loud, arrogant voices are slowly strangling the church to death. They are destroying faith and mystery and hope. Because, yeah, people also don’t really need hope if everything is clear. Hope is ultimately resolved when someone get an answer, and that is good when it happens. But people never have to rely on hope if they already have the answer. They have already peeked inside the wrapped present that is hope – at least, in their own mind. That “peek” means that it is no longer hope, at least in reality.
And when the present is finally opened and they find out their early “peek” was imaginary all along? Whoa, boy…
So I get it when you just want to give up and not do the church thing anymore. I wish I could give you some words of encouragement to see past the imperfections. Yeah, I know we are all imperfect and so we shouldn’t judge. But dang it – some imperfections are harder to be around than others.
And to be honest, most days I just want to give a big middle finger to the whole deal and go hang out with others that are like me. Those that get God (somewhat), that get what it means to hang with others that (somewhat) get God, but that don’t get what this strange strangled beast we falsely call the “church” (traditional, emerging, or otherwise) is all about. I feel more like the Bride of Christ when I hang with those that are more on the mysterious gray side.