Many of you have been in a classroom setting, whether it was college or high school, where the teacher takes an opinion poll. The dialogue may look something like this, “Hands up if you enjoy the taste of white bread? Okay, hands down. Now hands up if you enjoy the taste of brown bread?” The teacher may call on a few students to explain or defend their opinion but ultimately all opinions are respected and the exercise is a great source of initiating thought provoking conversation. These conversations are what teach us about each other but also what allows us to dig deeper into what we personally believe. Most of the conversation topics are kept light and fluffy, preference of music, movies, sports, how or if we exercise, etc. but what about when the questions get hard… when they start hitting closer to home (in terms of personal experience) or if they edge on the topics of political, religious and human rights. Do you still believe that the opinions of everyone in the class are equally respected or do social normalities all of the sudden begin to take precedence over personal opinion?
If all of our beliefs were outlined in black and white… there would be nothing left about God to discover because we would know it all already.
I have never personally been stuck in a classroom setting where my hand went up when everyone else’s stayed at their sides, but I have been in many conversations where my beliefs didn’t line up perfectly with the other persons. Needless to say those conversations ended quickly and there was definitely some tension felt for a short while afterwards. I wouldn’t say that my personal theological opinion comes from the far left or right field of Christianity, in fact I would say that it lies pretty close to right down the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complacent in my beliefs to the point where there is no controversy; in fact for most people it initiates controversy simply because I’m not sitting in any particular denominational camp. I believe that women have a place in leadership but should not be the lead pastor of a church, I believe that sacraments are sacred and should be practiced but are not necessary to the Christian life or our salvation, I believe in a combination of predestination and personal choice, and the list goes on. So for the most part when it comes to having God conversation with friends and family I can pretty must relate on a variety of topics, and I have a fairly good idea of the basis of their belief. But when I run into people whose faith is so tunnel viewed that the mere idea of there being another way of looking at it, I must admit… I avoid having any deep or meaningful conversations with them. I usually try to limit it to weather & seasons, the “what’s new?”, and career. It’s not that I think they are a bad person or that I don’t want to get to know them, but why would I sit there and take hit after hit of “you’re reading that wrong” or “how can you view it that way” or simply, “You’re wrong”. The answer is, I just simply don’t.
The funny thing is I love having religious or theological discussions with other people; it is actually one of my favorite things to do, especially if that person’s religious, denominational or theological beliefs are different than mine. I mean I could pay $1000 a class at my local Christian University to have a professor tell me all about it or I can sit down, get to know someone, and learn it firsthand! I mean it’s free education!! And heck, who knows, maybe some of my beliefs will change as a result. It doesn’t mean I was wrong to begin with but that I am learning more about myself, learning more about God and growing into the person He wants to be. I could change my opinion 1000 times in my life but in the end I’m still going to heaven. My opinion isn’t a life sentence, it’s a present observation.
the grey areas that inspire conversation, encourage growth, build character, strengthen relationships and fuel the fire of our never ending yearning to get to know our God more.
So if you are reading this and you think, crap is she talking about me… than chances are I am. Sorry to break it to you. Because guess what…. Life isn’t a competition. This is hard news to swallow I know, because I’m probably one of the more competitive people you will ever meet. I like to win, no, I love to win! But I have come to a point in my life where winning belongs on the sports field and never in my relationships or conversations. You will never hear me say “You are wrong” in any God based conversation. If I disagree, I will challenge you and I will ask you why you believe that and what your Biblical backup is. If you have answers for both, than I cannot change your personal conviction, I can only disagree and offer my view. You are not wrong and I am not wrong, you have your opinion and I have mine.
In the end your opinion is exactly that… yours. It’s not mine and nor do I want it to be mine. Just like I would never want to take your experiences away from you and call them my own. As Christians, we are connected by the very black and white points of the Bible. Points that all denominations agree upon, they are the ones that are written as plain as day. But the black and white of the Bible is the minority my friends and I don’t think that was any accident on God’s part. Because it is the grey areas that inspire conversation, encourage growth, build character, strengthen relationships and fuel the fire of our never ending yearning to get to know our God more. If all of our beliefs were outlined in black and white… there would be nothing left about God to discover because we would know it all already.
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