Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives. They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation. The topic this month is: what does it mean to be a Christian today?
I grew up in church. I enjoyed Sunday School, looked forward to youth group in junior high and was overjoyed when the opportunity came around to head off on a mission trip, or to Mingus Mountain in northern Arizona for camp. It was never a chore for my parents to get me to confirmation class, or to services.
And yet, I knew very little of Christ. I was the average, awkward American teen starving for social acceptance. Youth group was fun. There was pizza and volleyball and cute boys. It gave me a chance to meet others my age who didn’t go to my school, and to create long-lasting friendships.
It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I became truly curious about Christ and the United Methodist Church. Why did I so fervently believe what I’d been spoon fed by my parents, who’d eaten up whatever was served on the religious platter served by their parents? Part of my belief was certainly tradition. Our home celebrated Christ in the typical WASP-y ways – Easter baskets, Christmas trees and prayers before a meal when the grandparents showed up at Thanksgiving. We were not a religious family by a long shot. In truth, I attended church by myself for many years.
When I hit some turbulence later in life, I sought out my childhood minister, now working at an inner city church in Phoenix. I asked him for guidance over a very teary plate of tacos. He was blunt:
“When was the last time you attended church?”
“Well, um. Well, it’s just that Sundays are hard. I travel and it is just tough.”
“Our service is at 9:30. I’ll see you Sunday. Get your butt to church.”
I went the first Sunday and sat in the back. The next week, I sat a bit closer. I kept coming, one Sunday after the next. The next three years were delightful spiritually. I read the Bible for the first time – really reading it. I took classes to better understand what I was reading and to listen to different interpretations and applications of the lessons. I led the children’s ministry. A community garden was planted. Casseroles were baked. True friendships were formed.
And somewhere, during this time, I found Christ. Not a booming voice, burning bush or any other sure sign, but a feeling of peace and complete love. It’s the knowing that no matter how badly I’ve erred, it’s all going to be okay. I’m forgiven. My choice to be a Christian and a United Methodist became clearly my own.
Yet – that forgiveness comes with a task. As a Christian, I’m expected to love others. And by “others,” that means everyone. All people. Not just the ones that get their butts to church or the ones that believe Jesus was the son of Christ. (He who we emulate. He who spent his time with prostitutes and lepers. Ahem.)
That’s what it means to me to be a Christian today. In our ever violent, cruel world – I am called to love and to be an example of Christ. To love those who seem un-lovable. To give my heart and energy to make the world a bit kinder.
It’s a task I attempt daily, sometimes failing rather publicly. I am blessed with both a quick fuse and a generous heart. A gossip, who swears and waives my fist in traffic, drinks a bit too much and dances wildly at weddings, and often goes broke buying gifts for others. It’s a fun, hilariously imperfect combination that I can only imagine makes God laugh.
To another day of trying!
Love for all,
I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:
Rebekah is a blogger, amateur photographer, and missions volunteer with Adventures in Missions. A lifetime of being a pastor’s kid, attending church regularly, and a private Christian school education gave her a lot of knowledge about the nuances of theology without a lot of faith. Now she’s trying to figure out how faith and theology applies to her relationships and daily life. You can find her online at www.honeysucklelife.com.
Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife. (She does not play the organ.) She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice. Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler. Sarah blogs at www.beautyschooldropout.net
Bianca is a newlywed Navy wife from the great state of Texas (where she coincidentally currently resides), and she and her husband are expecting their first child in late summer. She has a passion for serving others, asking hard questions and sharing The Gospel with both her words and actions. Bianca loves Jesus, her hubs, authentic friendships, traveling, making lists of all kinds, and trying new recipes which she blogs about on BecomingBianca.com.