Monday, January 4, 2010

You Must Believe: Part 1- Hear No Evil

"It's nice that you call yourself a Christian and follow Christ but that's not enough. You must believe that he died for your sins." -A Response to my claim of being a Christian

I struggle with titles and labels. Not because of their misuse but because they fail to fully express the reality of what they're describing, nevertheless they are necessary in an impatient society (we can not sit around forever describing every detail that makes up a box of french fries to the driver-thru attendant at McDonald's now can we). So when I call myself a Christian each person reacts to that title differently based on their experience, not mine: an Atheist may automatically assume that I believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible dictated by a wrathful God who demands worship on pain of Hellfire; A Muslim might assume that I am ignorant and intolerant of other faiths (especially theirs); and a Conservative Christians might write me off as a unbeliever simply because I fail to hold the same beliefs as they do. Yet rarely do we take time to actually listen to what the other person holds dear to their heart. We apply the assumptions and stereotypes we have onto the other person the very second they describe themselves based on what WE THINK we know instead of what they truly believe.

I personally find it difficult to try and describe what I believe because 1) it challenges the majority belief in my part of the country, and 2) it is difficult to express an ongoing and constantly evolving spiritual journey. I can try and describe to you what I've experienced and felt along the way but if won't do any good if you're not willing to listen. And I mean more than just halfheartedly agreeing to listen, both parties must be willing to at least understand what the other believes and why. Some of us may not have the opportunity to listen and dialog with those with different beliefs because we surround ourselves with those who share our faith. It is natural to surround ourselves with like-minded people, although it is unchallenging to our spirituality. How can we know we truly love God and our neighbor if our neighbor shares the same faith? For those of us who are aware of our community bubble, do we then dare to leave it? If we do, we must also ask ourselves the reason for our departure: to missionize, or to interact and interconnect with our fellow man? Which is easier: attempting to convert the whole of humanity to a single faith, or attempting to understand our brother and learn to live with our differences? I am not calling for a halt to spreading the gospel but to intently listen, interact, and understand our brother's faith as well.


Al said...

Good words, good thoughts, and a generous heart.

I admit, as soon as I read the first paragraph my first response was to say back to that person: "It's nice that you call yourself a Christian and believe that he died for your sins, but that's not enough. You must follow Christ." (note the phrase reversal).

But that just exemplifies what you are talking about--I assumed that the person who would say that to you is one of those: someone who is more interested in correct belief than Christ-like heart and action. And I have no right to assume that without giving that person the opportunity to express what is really in their heart. As you say: 'We apply the assumptions and stereotypes we have onto the other person the very second they describe themselves based on what WE THINK we know instead of what they truly believe.'

I totally agree with and can identify with both of the difficulties in describing what you believe. Sometimes I have to hear myself say something before I realize that I don't actually believe what I just said--and by then the other person is showing me where I am wrong. And I can be just as quick to jump on someone else in the same kind of setting.

Truly, we need to learn to listen, and not to jump to conclusions.

Don said...

It is difficult. Is it not?

I would like for you to see "Avatar" (I saw it New Year's Day)and then write your impressions. I was deeply moved by it.

captron52 said...

Great post! I know what you mean tho. I hate labels--they just serve to get in the way!

Unknown said...

Thank you all for the insightful comments.

Al- Learning to listen to others was one of my first hurdles I overcame and has opened up a whole world of love and compassion I've never seen before in others.

Don- My wife and I have been wanting to see "Avatar" but we haven't had the chance. In fact, I think we have plans to see it today. I've heard a lot of great things about it.

Ronnie- Yes, labels do get in the way at times but I've found it as more of a launching point than cumbersome. It is a door that leads to a deeper understanding behind the label.

Namaste, and peace and blessings to all.

Jason said...

You have a great blog here. I have a blog myself which I hope will provide inspiration and guidance to people all around the world. Life is hard enough. I'd like us to exchange links to help spread some traffic around, and let other people know about our sites.

Please let me know if this is possible.


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