Tuesday, October 9, 2012

on unbelief, part i.

{photo by Harald Naper}

The question was if I'd ever had moments of doubt, of unbelief.

I had to be honest.

"No," I said.

And that's true.

I am prone to belief.

Book characters become as real to me as flesh and blood.

Santa Claus? I don't think I've ever really stopped believing.

So a God bigger than the universe, creating, orchestrating, divining, loving?

I can get behind that.

I can get behind Him, because to me, the alternative is unfathomable.

I believe, and I have rarely doubted.

But I wanted her to know: Mine wasn't a faith untested. And just because I'd never had serious, mind-numbing struggles with doubt didn't mean I'd never had faith frustrations of my own.

My issue, I told my friend, wasn't so much with God, but with His people.

And I'm not alone in that struggle, I know.

Sometimes it's the people of God I just don't understand, and yet, loving God means loving people. His people. 

Many of the most alone moments in my life have occurred in church or surrounded by "church people." And I type that while cringing because I know: That's not a good testimony to His love and acceptance.  Loneliness isn't what He desires for us.

Yet despite the loneliness I have lived in church, there is the paradoxical truth that for every alone moment I have experienced, for every verse I have interpreted differently from my brother, resulting in division instead of unity, loneliness instead of community, there have been countless times in my life when church people are the ones who have saved me. 

It's that reality I keep coming back to. That, and the fact that we simply cannot pick and choose who we love. 

Just as I am called to love the homeless and the hurting, the broken and the battered, I am called to love the rich. I am called to love the hypocrite. I am called to love the guy who jokingly tells me to get in the kitchen every time I see him. I am called to love the grouchy old lady who doesn't like praise and worship music or the fact that I sway when I sing. I am called to love the people who do not understand me, and, if I'm being honest with myself, I am called to try to understand them. 

That doesn't mean I have to change what I believe. It doesn't mean I have to accept what they say as truth. It doesn't mean I have to alter my convictions. 

It just means I have to love. 

I think I've written here before that I find that command particularly difficult to follow. I'm not sure why it's easier for me to love an outsider than it is for me to love an insider. 

Loving God, though, means loving people. Even the ones who have hurt my feelings or made me feel alone.

And when that gets hard (because, boy, does it get hard), my Father provides solace. He responds to my doubts and frustrations by providing me with people and voices of comfort, often in ways I least expect. 


Anonymous said...

This is a struggle for many. Just last night after encouraging and trying to get others involved in deeper purpose, I was smacked in the face. My initial reaction was and typically is, I want outta here. logically, I know I must love. Personally, I find loving everyone an uphill climb.


Erin said...

The guy who jokingly says to get in the kitchen makes me cringe. I would have a hard time loving him. I think you are right--a lot of the time it can definitely be harder to love people on the inside than people on the outside. And yet we are called to do so.
And perhaps trying to understand them is what helps us to love them.

Gloria {Lia} said...

I love this! So true.

Janay said...

Well said!
Yesterday I was challenged by Colossians 2. In speaking about the Laodiceans Paul stresses being united in love so that they may have complete understanding, know Christ, and find all treasures of wisdom and understanding. It sure sounds like we cannot attain those things on our own, we have to be united in love with our brothers and sisters first.

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