This summer has been an intense season of personal deconstruction for me. First summer out of college and quickly leaping into the “real world”, I have taken serious time to reflect on my beliefs. I didn’t necessarily intend to enter this season in my life, it just sort of happened. I think there are external issues that caused me to feel the need to regain faith in my own personal stability, like the current state of our nation for example. While trusting this process, I have allowed my mind to freely search out the truths of my present worldview, specifically my Christian ideas. Nowhere through this season have I lost faith in Christ, but I have questioned my faith in what I have perceived to be American Christianity. You can only imagine the inner conflict I have felt. In my heart, I have carried both the dream to transform lives and cities for the better, while also not wanting to have any contributing part in what has become American Christian culture.
This is an odd place to be for an aspiring Church Planter.
This critical nature isn’t necessarily new for me, but for this particular season in time, I allowed it to go deeper than I ever have before. Part of this is because I feel the responsibility to consistently question what I “know” if I am going to be in positions of “spiritual authority”.
I actually told a friend of mine recently that I’m anti-religion. Which honestly, saying that out loud for the first time caught me off guard. I realized how strong of a statement that is. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I actually am anti-religion. Rather I am anti-false religion. Just like most things, there are good aspects and negative aspects that constitute to a thing, the same with religion. Good religion is meant to be a system and set of pure rituals that bring you closer to God. What bad religion does is it allows the system and rituals to replace God. Suddenly religion becomes a system used to control people and feed the religious elite’s ego. This is illustrated in the numerous examples the Pharisees give us in the gospels. I often can easily identify with the Pharisees and Jesus has to set me straight and remind me that all of my studying, efforts, and desires are meant to lead me to a closer intimacy and knowledge of Him. Knowledge and rituals that do not ultimately bring you closer to Christ is just false religion.
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39)
There’s enough natural pressures in life. And there are good spiritual pressures that come with the life in Christ. But I want to rid the unnecessary pressures caused by bad religion. Natural and good pressure can turn a coal into a diamond, but too much pressure will just crush everything.
To summarize this season of deconstruction, I was basically re-analyzing every aspect of my beliefs. It was a process of separating my beliefs about God and the world that are rooted in Scripture and experience, and separating it from what I have been taught to believe by Christian culture that may not be as rooted in scripture as we are led to believe. Every religion does this, every denomination does this, even “non-denominational” churches which has basically become a denomination in and of itself in all of its beautiful irony.
I’m not going to pretend that I have come to definitive conclusions about every aspect of my faith, but I trust that I am on the right track. Because I allowed myself to be honest with my thoughts and feelings and took them to Jesus, I feel more assured in who I am as a Christian. If you have doubts, its okay to have doubts. If you think your beliefs are out of line with conventional Christianity, its okay to explore those thoughts. My only input would be to earnestly seek out the Truth, no matter how uncomfortable the reality may be.
Although these seasons are difficult, I do believe it is of utmost importance to accept the process and allow the uncomfortable ride to bring ourselves closer to Truth. The phrase of “ignorance is bliss” has always lead me to respond with “Yes, but knowledge is power”. Ignorance may allow a life of bliss, but it is misguided. On the other hand, living a life with mindset founded on Truth brings a fulfilling life and comfort. This is the parable of the wise and foolish builders. (Matthew 7:24-27)