I grew up being taught and being pretty sure of what I was to believe if I was to call myself a Christian.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
And, in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord;
Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost;
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate.
And so forth and so forth and so forth.
I can still say the Apostle’s Creed by heart even though I haven’t said it out loud as a Creed in years and even though I don’t believe it. At least in way I once believed it.
I find myself thinking about this because this weekend I am leading a 24 hour retreat for a group of high school students from several congregations. The students are all participating in their congregation’s Confirmation program. As I have planned the retreat and thought about what I want the students experience, I find myself hoping they will walk away with a sense of wonder and a vision of what might be more than a list of what they think they are to believe; that they will begin to think about what it means to follow Jesus more than their having to believe certain things about Jesus or about what Jesus did.
I desire that for them because I desire it for myself and for the rest of us, as well.
Those of us with the church community have fought bitterly over “correct belief” to the point where others watching us say to themselves, “If that is what it means to be Christian I want no part of it.” And, truth be told, I want no part of it either.
Instead here is what I want to know.
How do you do your best to follow Jesus? Or live your deepest and best values?
Where do you experience or are caught off guard by that Something More which I know and name as God?
What is your vision for how the world should be? Share with me what are you doing to live towards that vision today?
Maybe if we began to think and to talk more like that we would find ways to partner not only with others within the Christian community, but also with those beyond that community whether those of other faith traditions or those who don’t align themselves with any particular tradition. In doing so we would not only deepen understanding, but may even forge partnerships which will help us move towards the tomorrow many of us imagine.