About a year ago or so, a friend and I were chatting with each other. We (probably me) brought up the subject of religion. This was neither the first time we talked about religion, nor was it a heated or serious discussion. During the course of this particular conversation on this particular day, I mentioned I was [am] a Christian. I thought nothing of mentioning my Christianity, half assuming I was repeating information she already knew to be true. However, to my surprise (and the surprise of my friend), she responded, “You are?! I didn’t know that.”
Wow. Color me embarrassed. Actually, color me a full palate of emotions.
Though I do not wear my religion on my sleeve, I consider myself a Christian. Due to my friend’s response, I began to wonder. While wondering, I began to spin my friend’s response in a way that would not be so – well – damning. Perhaps my friend was not familiar with quiet, soft-spoken and subtle Christians. Maybe my friend equated Christianity with constant witnessing, constant judgment and a heavy dose of holier than thou. From that perspective, I felt better, but I did not feel good.
My friend uttered that response over a year ago. As the days of Lent and my abstinence from Facebook and Twitter continue, I figured the time had come for me to address – for myself – my friend’s response. For the first time, I mentioned what my friend said to women within my church small group. (A Small Group is a church sponsored group of women that meet once a week to discuss various topics surrounding the Bible, Christianity and other religious ideas.) Again, I felt better, but I did not feel good.
With regards to my life, I am – for the most part – an open book. (My apologies.) Why is it my friend knows about my monthly cycle, my marital situation and activity of my kids on any given day, my favorite food and what I eat for breakfast every morning, but she does not know I am a Christian? Why am I a babbling brook about so many things, yet my core belief remains a mystery to some of those around me?
Shortly after the conversation with my friend, I had a thought. “Maybe I should buy a cross necklace. A cross around my neck would tell the world that I am a Christian, right?” Sadly, I truly had that thought. What’s worse, I bought a cross necklace and wore it like a badge. “Hello. My name is Lenore. I am a Christian. See my cross necklace?”
Rest assured readers, I was well aware of my poor judgment; and, I was well aware of my form of what – hypocrisy? Months after wearing the necklace religiously, I took it off and placed it on my dresser. I’ll talk more about the necklace later.
In my opinion, being a Christian means I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost – aka God, Jesus and Holy Ghost – aka the Trinity. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe God created all of us and every thing. In my opinion – my opinion – Jewish people are the children of God, and God sent Jesus to save the rest of us.
I love to talk about free will and whether or not everything is predetermined. I love to discuss the power of faith and what I believe is needed to have faith. I enjoy debates regarding semantics (is that the right word?), because the details of where, when and how do not play a role in my faith.
I have friends that are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, etc. I enjoy debating with my atheist and agnostic friends, and I enjoy learning about the faiths of my other friends. I question every thing. Every thing. Yes, I even question God.
I believe in the Word of the Bible, and I do not confuse the fact that the Roman Calendar dictates when Christmas is celebrated not the actual date Jesus was born. Moreover, I do not let certain societies dictate the look of Jesus, when I know he was born and raised in an area around North Africa and SW Asia.
Back to the necklace. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe Christianity is a label one wears. I believe Christians, in a literal sense, are people who believe Jesus is the Son of God. Because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, then I am a Christian. However, I believe Christianity is more than just a belief. I believe Christianity is a way of life. I believe Christians (and Jews) are charged with the task to live with a pre-programed moral compass. By pre-programmed, I mean God provided us with the rules and regulations, and we are to abide by His rules and regulations.
I will not speak to the difference in the Bible between the Old Testament and the New Testament, because as a Christian, I believe Jesus came with a kinder and gentler updated program. Plus, as I said earlier, I believe the Jewish people are the children of God, saved by God; Jesus came to save the rest of us.
For me, the embodiment of Christianity is best shown in Galatians 5 verses 22 – 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” In my opinion, the fruit of the Spirit could do a great deal of good in the world, regardless of one’s faith. Based on my friend’s response over a year ago, I need to do better in living by the fruit of the Spirit. I commit to that charge, and I feel better. In fact, I feel good. Thank you my friend.