By: Jason Crosby
In my last post about a month ago, I talked about some barriers I have encountered as I have tried to unearth a Christian faith that is authentic to me. I discussed the fact that as I had new experiences, the Christian faith no longer fit me as well as it did when I was younger. I talked about the fact that my initial introductions to the basic concepts of the Christian faith were difficult to move beyond. What follows are some of the ways (this is in no way a comprehensive list) that my understanding of some foundational aspects of my view of Christian faith have shifted over time.
Faith - I used to understand faith as a noun. Faith was a generic term that described the rituals and beliefs that my religious community practiced and held. Now, I see faith as a verb. Faith still involves ritual and belief, but the word represents an ongoing process of taking action despite clarity regarding the final outcome.
Spiritual Practices (Prayer, Giving, Fasting, etc.) - Not too long ago, these practices were somewhat burdensome, outlying elements of my faith. I used to think that my spiritual needs could be met by passively sitting in a worship service once a week. Not any longer. I've found that each day I must engage in one of the various forms of spiritual practices to gain a sense of spiritual satisfaction.
Evangelism - I used to think that this term only meant utilizing slick strategies to convert people to Christianity. I now see evangelism as simply loving people as I have been loved by Christ. Evangelism does not have a conversion undercurrent to it for me now.
Church - Even though I was taught that church was the people, I still used to think that church was a building that housed an institution. I now see church as something that just as often takes place outside of an official place of worship or beyond the traditional reach of the institution. Church takes place in living rooms, coffee shops, streets, or parks. Wherever people gather to encounter god's love, love one another, or love their world, a church is built.
Christianity - I used to understand Christianity as the term used to best describe my religious tradition. I also thought that if one adhered to Christianity, then a person could not incorporate other religious traditions' practices into one's spiritual journey. Now, like faith, I see Christianity as a more fluid term. For me, Christianity is now less a term that defines my religious preference. I now perceive Christianity as a way of being. I also see Christianity as a language among other languages. Just as no language is inherently superior to another, Christianity is not superior to another religion. Also, just as other languages shape other languages, Christianity is free to be informed by other religious traditions. I can appreciate and incorporate other religious traditions' elements into the language of my faith, Christianity.
What about you? Has your understanding of an important aspect of your faith shifted over time? If so, how?