Identifying with the Reflective Christian

What are you doing, you man, with the word of God upon your lips? Upon what grounds do you assume the role of mediator between heaven and earth? Who has authorized you to take your place there and to generate religious feeling?

Karl Barth

Being on a faith journey is a scary thing. Especially when you’re raised up in a Christian home with the pressure of eventually believing everything taught by your parents. My journey has been scary and frustrating because there are people close to me who “pat me on the head” and have given me “room to exlore” but always end the conversation with “Well, as long as you end up back on the right path!” This has been the cause of much inner turmoil for me. I’ve been given an expectation I’ll never live up to. My parents and some close friends need to realize I will probably never be on the exact same page as them.

So, where does this leave me? What faith do I identify myself with? Do I give up and stop asking questions and blindly believe in the Judeo-Christian theology? If I do that, which denomination do I choose? Or, do I give up my search and not believe anything?

These questions threw me into a tail spin for years. But, through conversations with my brother he suggested I check out the book, The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment by Daniel Taylor. I read the first chapter and this book was speaking directly to me! I’m someone who identifies mainly with Jesus’ teachings of Love and Grace, but find it hard to take the Bible as 100% inspired directly by God. I have a problem with a large amount of “legalism” that’s represented even in the New Testament. Because of this I find it hard to connect with “mainstream” Christians.

Thinking, as many have discovered, can be dangerous. It can get us into trouble – with others, but also with ourselves. And the suspicion lingers in religious circles that it can also, if we are not very careful, get us into trouble with God.

The above passage was confirmation this book was written for me. I’m a skeptical person, a person full of doubts, but also one who holds dear many of the teachings of Jesus. Grace and Love being the main principles I try to live my life by. Daniel Taylor sums up my personality extremely accurately in his first chapter:

The reflective person is, first and formost, a question asker-one who finds in every experience and assertion something that requires further investigation. He or she is a stone-turner, attracted to the creepy-crawly things that live under rocks and behind human pronouncements. The writer of Ecclesiastes was such a person: “I directed my mind to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation . . .” (Eccles. 7:25, NASB).

To be reflective is to be sensitive to and fascinated by the complexity of things. It entails an openness to the nuances and grace notes of life, and it implies an  eye for hidden beauties and white washed sepulchers. The reflective person seeks demarcation in the indivisible and finds unity in diversity discovering likeness in seemingly unlike things.

When I read this I was stunned. After all these years, I didn’t feel alone. There wasn’t something wrong with me! A good 20 years of my life was spent with the guilt that I’m somehow missing my connection with God. That I wasn’t associating with the right people or being open enough to the “Holy Spirit.” The simple fact is I am a “reflective person.” An “answer seeker.” And it makes so much sense!

My whole life I’ve been facinated with what makes things work. I’d dissect worms on the playground. I’d take apart old radios. As I got older and found myself drawn to computers, I’d spend my time figuring out new programs and eventually learned HTML code as the “Internet Age” hit in High School. Even now, I am a problem solver in my career in Software/Technical Support. My personality calls me to be cynical and skeptical to an extent. It’s how I’ve been created and molded. This realization was a huge weight off my shoulders.

Now my journey continues guilt free. I’ve shed 20+ years of guilt that has weighed me down in my search for truth. I’m sure as I continue to read this book there will be more blog posts like this. If you’re someone like me and on a journey, but you feel like you’re being held back by what others around you might say or how they may treat you – I say this: EMBRACE THE JOURNEY. Shed the old skin holding you back and be real and honest with those around you. You, like me, may finally be taking your first real steps toward truth.

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