In a recent post I said that I have recently faced the fact that I am a hopeless believer. It was a new discovery when I wrote it, but I have now had a couple weeks to see how this might play out in my life.
John Eldrege wrote in one his books, “Let the world feel the weight of who you are.” Because I have discovered my identity as a hopeless believer, I have recently found it in myself to do just that. I used to obsess about non-Christians understanding me. I wanted everyone to think me a rational person. I wanted respect from all non-Christians and to feel like they thought of me as intelligent even though I was a Christian. I didn’t want non-believers to think ill of me for any reason. I was so sensitive to this that I would listen to a non-believer ramble on and on about his/her beliefs and would remain relatively quiet about my own. I would rarely invite anyone to my church because I didn’t want to offend or make anyone uncomfortable. I was an apologist for Christianity in the worst way. Christian apologetics, properly understood, is simply defending and arguing for belief in Christ as the way to God, and all that that entails. But I was not really this kind of apologist. Instead, I felt like my life had to be an apology for all the wrongs done by all Christians to all non-Christians throughout all history.
I am finished with that. I’m done with Christian guilt. In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller describes setting up a confession booth on the campus of a liberal university. But instead of hearing confession, he was the confessor, apologizing for two thousand years of abuses by Christians and the Christian church. Though part of me admires this, part of me has decided I’m done apologizing. Do things differently? Absolutely. Point to a new way of understanding God as a Christian? Count me in. Let go of the prejudice that has plagued Christianity for so long? Sign me up. Apologize for wrongs committed by others who call themselves Christians? Not so much anymore.
Every time a white person commits a crime, do I feel the need to apologize for my race? Every time a left-handed person says something idiotic, do I feel a need to appear extra intelligent on behalf of left-handers everywhere? Do I feel a need to be extra intelligent in order to compensate for the presence of stupid bald guys in the world? Of course not.
You could say that in a sense I am coming out. Having realized I am a hopeless believer, that I could not disbelieve if I wanted to, I have found freedom to be who I am. I do believe in a universe created by a God who cares for us and wants to know us. I really do believe that Jesus Christ came as the embodiment of God and that his death was the price for my sin and for yours. I do believe in a life of constant transformation as we seek God through prayer and other spiritual disciplines. I do believe in the church as the hope of the world when it’s at its best.
As others talk about their beliefs, I will talk about mine. I will not worry about offending non-believers with my faith anymore than most non-believers worry about offending me with their lack of it. It’s not that I have come to respect others less, it’s that I have finally decided to respect myself equally. Not more, but equally.
I have carried a deep peace with me since discovering this. A conflict that raged up in me almost 20 years ago has finally begun to settle. Because of that, the world will feel the weight of who I am. Not everyone will like that. And I can accept it.