A question has been increasingly on my mind. Am I a Christian? I believe in God and I act as though I believe in God, but lately I have been very far from religion. I no longer go to church having been unable to find one that I could call home. I found ones I agreed with on certain issues, but not on everything. My Sundays are now reserved for light work and spending time with my wife in the ways she needs me to (usually by cleaning something). My weekdays are bereft of prayer these days, mostly because my work and the things I have to do to maintain my relationships and sanity take up all of my time. Astoundingly, prayer is not one of those things that helps my sanity. You would think that it would, but in fact it makes me more uneasy and more stressed.
What you do
That being the situation, am I still a Christian?
I think my one consolation in this debate I have with myself is Christ’s admonition: “Follow me.” I do not have the luxury of being completely committed to Christ. I am not a priest or a monastic, much as that would be truly amazing. But in my everyday existence of worldly cares, I still have things I do with Christ in mind.
As a writer, I am careful with what I write. I try to think of the long-reaching implications of my statements and the points I put into my articles. I believe in the power of words as strongly as I believe in the omnipotence of God. God did, after all, start the entire universe with a word. As a young person who wanted to be a writer, my favorite passage of scripture was, “In the beginning was the Word.” Not only are words important to me, but the Word is important to me as the embodiment of Christ. With that in mind, I try to make sure that my writing work is the kind of work I could put before Christ without shame.
Additionally, my relationship with my wife is a labor of love. I want my relationship with her to be a good one, based on the principles of a marital relationship that I have learned God requires. Without gendering our relationship, I want my personality in my relationship with her to be that of Christ. I want to care for her as Christ cares for the Church, the Bride of Christ, and die for her if necessary. Because she is one of the main foci of my life and much of my time is spent crafting that relationship, a good portion of my day (perhaps unconsciously) is undergone in a Christ-conscious way.
From this perspective, if the ideal of Christian is truly to be a “follower of Christ,” I do qualify as a Christian. But is there more to it than that?
What He would have me do
Religious people like to point out that the Church was instituted by Christ. The phrase I have heard most often from my parents (my father being a priest speaking from the pulpit, my mother as a firm Anglican) that there is only one way to Christ, the implication being that going to Church and doing what it tells you is the ONE way. I have always wondered what Christ would make of that statement.
I have never found Jesus to be a legaliastic person, despite the legalism that religions impose on people. My religion is comforting to me and, I should say, if I were in the country I was born in, I would happily go to my church there every Sunday. But I would do that more because I was raised in it and find comfort in it more than because I thought it had all the answers for what was right. No one religion has the completely perfect list of rules and because of that fact no one religion has the complete truth displayed for us all to see. Most religions have many of the same truths, but none even come close to having it in full.
Religion by nature is hypocritical. It tells people what to do and then ignores its own transgressions only to overplay its fewer triumphs. With that in mind, what would Jesus have me do about religion? I think in the first place, he would not have me feel guilty for being ambivalent to it. Guilt makes nothing better. After that, I think he would just like to have a conversation with me about life and things – because that is the kind of guy Jesus was. He just liked to talk and listen to people no matter who they were and no matter what religion they were of.
A good conversation
I think that is the important thing (for me, at least). A relationship with Christ is truly a conversation between you and him. It should be a constant dialogue in which you take your questions to him and have a conversation about it. I do not have everything figured out, nor do I expect to ever have it all figured out. But I would be truly remiss if I ceased to think and talk about it.
So am I a Christian? I hope so. Do you think I am? I hope you do.