Recently (since September) I’ve begun growing spiritually. What does that mean? For me, it means transforming my faith (Christianity) from a noun into a verb which means actually reading my Bible daily and going to church regularly and praying/thinking of God more.
This is, in part, due to my now attending a church that has changed the way I’ve envisioned Christianity. The Chicago Church of God doesn’t relegate it’s religion to the walls of a building. The church is a family, a fellowship of believers (see Acts 2:42-47), and so exists outside of those walls also. It took some getting used to but I’ve never felt so connected! People come to your house and/or invite you to theirs for Bible study, game nights, etc. They members don’t just open their homes, they also open their lives and their own spiritual journeys, trials and tribulations.
Because people are so open and so real, it’s caused me to really examine and my own life. For the last six or seven years, I’ve stopped calling myself a Christian and just said I was spiritual. The term “Christian” became synonymous, for me, with everything wrong with the church. Christians were the ones complaining about the Starbucks cups, Christians like my home state’s own Kim Davis were the ones in the media crucifying people with same-sex significant others…. Christians were doing a lot that I just didn’t care to be a part of.
My church feels different. But early on in my Bible studies, someone asked, what would happen, though, if a member of the church did something that hurt? When they did something that hurt? Because we’re all human and everyone can’t rub anyone the right way all the time. Someone shared their own personal example of such an instance. And suddenly I was wondering to myself:
Why was I allowing other people to affect and define my own personal relationship with God?
I couldn’t find a good answer.
What I did find, though, were a few side-eyeing situations. The more I read the Bible, the more I wondered if everyone just got Christianity all wrong. Does God even care about all of our struggles for righteousness? Is He really “fire and brimstone” strict? Or is He shaking His head at how stressful we’re making this religious thing? Does He really care so much about our sex lives? Is our salvation wrapped around our actions? If we repent, know that God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and are baptized, shouldn’t we be good? Does God know our heart? But then again, do I want God to know my heart? It’s not as pretty as I’d like to believe it is….
These are just a few of my questions; there are many that I can’t even articulate. After being pressed to try by my Bible study group, I realized a lot of my issues with religion and the Bible stemmed from my just not knowing. There was so much I didn’t know about the Bible and this religion. Before, my lack of knowledge made it easier to be ambivalent and unattached to my faith. Now it was making me anxious — was I doing it wrong?
Reading the Bible this way is mind-blowing. There’s so much that gets lost in the complicated language of the King James’ Version that I’ve always read. And I love reading the history lessons/in-depth analyses that follow below many of the verses. I’m actually really excited to have the stories pulled apart with research the way they are and really just want to be nerdy so I think I’m going to devote a chunk of this blog to my spiritual growth and readings. I encourage you to join me but also keep in mind that faith and spirituality are personal — my takeaways may not be your takeaways but I think that’s okay.