Surprisingly, I began to focus less on my mind, while acknowledging it more, and somehow, along the way, I started paying much more attention to and thinking about love and its application as part of the walk of Christ.
And then I started listening to people in the church again...and I started having issues. I'm in no way deluded into thinking that people in the church are supposed to be perfect. I understand all too well that not only are Christians sick people working their way to health with the guidance of Jesus, but I know quite certainly that churches are full of people who show up for reasons that have nothing to do with God. Something has changed recently though...and I don't think it's just that I've become more sensitive. As the country is changing and becoming more hostile and intolerant of differing opinions, people are panicking more and excluding more. It would seem, that not even the love of God is enough to unite.
Well, I just got one of Ravi's newsletters that, while it confirmed what I'm seeing, reminded me of what has been commanded us, and somehow, I'm finding it calming.
He starts off quoting 1 Peter 3:15 -- “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” The fact that we see so little gentleness and respect makes me sad. Being reminded that it's a teaching of the faith is encouraging.
He goes on to tell a story--"I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a Hindu. He was questioning the strident claims of the followers of Christ as being something supernatural. He absolutely insisted “conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that in most cases it was not any different to those claims of other ‘ethical’ religions.” So far, his argument was not anything new. But then he said something that I have never forgotten, and often reflect upon: “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians that I know?” His question is a troublesome one. After all, no Buddhist claims a supernatural life but frequently lives a more consistent one. The same pertains to many of other faiths. Yet, how often the so-called Christian, even while proclaiming some of the loftiest truths one could ever express, lives a life bereft of that beauty and character."
Since I spend so much time around both the Christian Left and the Christian Right, I've come to realize something...the Right seems obsessed with the "Thou shalt nots" and the Left focused squarely on the "Thou shalts"...how they got split, I don't know. I imagine it comes from too much absorbing of secular culture--which, but the way, isn't just music and attitudes toward sex. Secular attitudes also include ignorance, small-mindedness, ignoring the humanity of others and a general lack of respect for the struggles those around us are facing.
I don't know what all that means, but I feel like I need some space from the "loud" Christians these days and more time with the quieter, busy, effective ones.