I think it grows harder and harder these day to see Jesus, let alone follow him on a daily basis.
As I scan my world around me, I see a scary large number of my peers, pastors and friends who once held a deep, authentic and life changing faith, who are now crashed upon the rocks and burned out. It's like their faith unintentionally became seasonal. My faith was real until this age and then I stopped believing. "That was me then, this is me now". I can not explain why they are where they are and where I am where I am. What I do know is we all received the same teachings, we were all moved and moved again at the same conferences and all taught by the same professors in seminary. We fell deeper in love with Jesus together but somewhere along the line their faith dissolved. (For my dearest friends who read this) I am not writing this as a hit piece for the people in my life who have fallen away or found what they see as a greater enlightenment. I am simply asking myself the questions What has made me different and Does my faith have a shelf life? Will I, like so many of my friends and peers, come to a place where faith in Jesus doesn't fit anymore?
I see this as the story of my generation. When we were younger we were filled with passion and we were ready to change the world. But as we grew older, we felt and experienced how broken the really church ( the imperfect people of God) was, how filled with judgement and disdain the church was. We found ourselves in the middle of a long standing fight in the wider church community. We took up sides and we took up arms against each other. We divided ourselves over theological affiliations. We did not know it but we grew up and were being launched in the midst of Christendoms own Civil War as we came into adulthood and we were the on the front line of this fight between Truth and Grace. This fight for the soul of an institution we deeply loved.
I have learned that, when you fight for the wrong thing you will always win the wrong prize. As the church civil war continues to wage on we might have lost sight of Jesus. We might have lost sight of the fact that Jesus deeply loves those people that world loves to hate. He loves the people left wing, progressive Christians love to hate and he loves the people right wing, conservatives Christians love to hate. I think both sides lost everything to really win nothing with enormous damage done. A generation left the main line (right and left) of Christendom, took their kids with them because we were too ( insert your own adjective here) to come to grips with the hard realities of Jesus being full of Truth and Grace. The grace of God is always going to extend further than you want it to and it will always reach out to people you don't want it to reach, and in that same breath the truth of God is going to continually stand strong and unwavering the face of sin and rebellion. We can't edit the truth nor can we diminish the grace. Jesus said to be full of truth and full of grace. Not grace over truth or truth over grace. Not 60/40 or 30/70. Full Grace and Full Truth. In this civil war both sides won the church, but both side won a church divorced from Jesus.
It is my personal lifelong struggle to recognize on the daily that I am to follow Jesus... really. Not a picture of Jesus that looks like me or talks like me but Jesus....really Jesus. I do not follow an agenda or side in this civil war but Jesus who is full of both grace and truth. I daily have to recognize that the church is filled with imperfect people (like me) who on some days lean more toward grace than truth and other days more toward truth than grace.
So to my peers and friends whose faith doesn't seem to fit anymore, who have been burned by the church or by life. Who feel abandoned and disenfranchised, who feel like it was never real. To those who got so beaten up and wounded in the church civil war I want you to know that there still is hope. There still is promise and there are places where grace and truth are blossoming together. Maybe your faith doesn't fit anymore because you've changed and you never heard all of the truth or all of the grace. What I believe is that from the ashes of what was can grow something beautiful. I ask that you consider talking to God again while keeping in mind that he is full of Grace and Truth for you and for the rest of the world too. The war that was never ours is over and we no longer need to fight!
God's Love is always True