There seems to be a misconception about Christians running rampant these days. The modern notion of Christians is that they are no different from anyone else. Even the Bible admits it—“we all make mistakes” (James 3:2) “for all have sinned” (Romans 3:23)—and it’s pretty obvious in everyday life, too. Christians eat and sleep and judge and sneer like everyone else.
They gossip, they hate, and they get things wrong as often as they get them right. Even the good ones aren’t very good. Why, even I—mistake-ridden I! you say—manage as well as Joe Christian I see at school, at work, carrying his Bible on the bus. So, there is little point in Christianity. It offers no visible benefits and seems to do rather a lot of harm, so we might as well chuck it.
That is the modern outlook on religion: the world is pretty screwed up right now and Christianity (especially) has done little, if any good, towards the greater humanity.
This, I believe, is because Christianity is not about the greater humanity. And neither, quite honestly, are you. We all love to ask, “Why is there pain?” “Why suffering?” “Why evil?” “Why is the world so screwed up and why does humanity have such big, impossible problems?”
If God exists, why?
But although these are valid questions, the answers are not what make our hearts beat and our breath catch. The real question we want answered isn’t about the greater humanity at all. The real question is “Why am I hurt?” “Why do I suffer and, in turn, cause suffering?” “Why do I chose the wrong things, say the wrong things, do the wrong things?” because we don’t call them “evil” things when we do them, but “wrong” or maybe “unhealthy.” “Why is my life screwed up when I intend so well?”
Asking the right questions—or rather, admitting what the right questions really are—is the first step. The second step is naming things truly. “Christianity” is a tame way to say “God” which is an obscured way of saying “Truth, Justice, Peace, and Love Wrapped into One.” But then, language can fail us, can’t it? A name important enough takes an entire book to explain, and even then we fail to grasp it.
But most of the time, it’s not the language’s fault, but our cowardly hearts. We are quick to recognize Good, but we love the idea of “humanity” too much to point out Evil. If something evil, name it! Treating someone like dirt—whether they deserve it or whether you’ve had a bad day or whether whatever—is evil. Talking badly about someone—even that one time, only once, even if that person is yourself—is evil. Hating ourselves is evil. Its opposite—self-absorption—is evil enough to destroy relationships, mutilate love, and burn up the few good things we’ve managed to scrap together by our own, tired wills.
You—the things you do every day—and I—with every breath I take!—are evil. If only we could own up to it. If only we could accept it, confess it, and denounce it.
And that is why Christianity—a mere title of the gateway to the only one who is truly Good, truly Merciful, truly Whole—is different. Yes, God gives commands, but ultimately they are intended to help us find what we have always been looking for: rest. God commands us not to lie; he commands us not to cheat and steal and judge people. He commands it, and he commands you to rest and to trust. He commands all these things for our betterment.
Do right by everybody, he says, but at the end of the day, find rest in Me alone. Live your life for the good of others, but when you fail—and you will, of course you will, haven’t you already failed so many times?—know that I Am, anyway. Try, search, ask, seek, and I promise you will find the many gifts I’ve given you. But don’t do it on your own.
When you come back to your apartment, when you brush your teeth and you turn off the lights, when you are the only one inside your skull and though your heart might beat faster for something else that yourself, it is your heart, beating in your chest and you are you alone, looking into the void of the things you’ve done and not done and the things that you hope you can someday do—that is when you can sigh with relief and sink into the comfort that you aren’t at the center of the universe.
There is more than the void, God says. You can turn off the lights knowing that there is Stability in this world, that there is Good and that it is not nameless, formless and far away from you. It is living. I am living. And if you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.
You can crawl into bed angry or discontent or frustrated, but pull the covers up around your shoulders. Rest your head on the pillow and let. it. go. When you are a little part of a magnificent whole, this, too, really shall pass. When you see the great and beautiful machinery of the World rising up around you, that little spot of rust on you, the widget, can be forgiven.
|He stretches out the heavens. He spreads them out like a tent to live in.|
|Why do you complain, "My way is hidden from the Lord.|
My cause is disregarded by my God."
|Do you not know? Have you not heard?|
The Lord is the Everlasting God! The Creator of the Ends of the Earth!