This past Friday I got together with three of my close friends who I hadn’t seen for a while and spent a lovely evening out in Uptown. One of my three friends had read my blog from last week, and initiated some challenges to my ideas. A lively debate on the existence of God and the problems with Christianity ensued, leaving all four of us thinking hard and quite animated. As much as I seek conversation about faith, I am embarrassed to admit there was a point in the conversation where I was frustrated enough I didn’t really want to talk about it anymore. I started taking the criticisms my friend had about faith personally, and could not seem to find common ground to agree with him on.
It is easy to preach that conversations about faith are important, but sometimes it is hard to live. Especially when it is in the midst of a relationship that is important to you. My boyfriend John Elliot and I seem to run into this issue. Faith and Christianity is something that is very essential to both of us and additionally we both have spent a lot of time developing in faith independently. Me through a Lutheran upbringing, extensive traveling and studying philosophical theology at a Christian college, him through an Evangelical/Baptist upbringing, extensive Christian camp ministry and a major in Biblical studies in college with a focus on translating ancient Hebrew and Greek (I am humbled regularly his knowledge of Christianity and the Bible). Even though we both love God and Christianity, John and I continue to discover several tenants we do not agree on and have hit some stand stills on how to resolve our two perspectives on faith.
|A Knife on a sharpening block|
I remember a long phone conversation with a friend from high school occurring during my freshman year of college about faith. This friend happens to have been raised Catholic and although he went to a Catholic college there are several ways (with my limited knowledge of Catholicism) I would classify him as unconventional. I remember asking him on the phone if he was happy he was raised Catholic as to me it didn’t seem to encapsulate some of his more prominent beliefs. To my surprise, he said being raised Catholic was the best thing that could of happened to him: as it challenged his way of thinking about God enough that he truly had to examine his beliefs and what was important to him in faith. What a neat way to relate to a religious upbringing.
There are two lessons from the bible I found that I believe are particularly applicable and important for me to remember when I am discussing faith:
One: Colossians 4:6, NIV. "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Two: James 1:19, NIV. "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
I love the idea of grace and salt being mixed in one’s conversation. It allows for real questioning along with lots of empathy for the other party. Furthermore, I know I need to focus on being quick to listen to others more, and instead of becoming frustrated with others views do my best to really learn from them and try to see what God might be trying to show me through them.
|Lake Calhoun at Night with the Setting Sun|