catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 14 :: 2004.09.10 — 2004.09.23


Seeking truth

There is a major rift in our churches today. Debates and division have arisen regarding ?truth.? You?ve heard them. They include ordination of women, views on homosexuality and whether or not Christianity is the only true religion. But the real conflict isn?t over these few questions; it?s between two comprehensive ways of seeing Christianity as a whole.

It would be so easy not to deal with these kinds of questions. But then we hear Jesus remind us, ?If you continue in my word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.? What word do we hear today?

In my first year of seminary, my professor asked what we would want someone to know who walked into our church. Someone answered, ?God loves you.? ?How does that sound?? asked the prof, ?Do we want people to know God loves them?? Yes, yes, we all affirmed. Whew, one question I could get right.

And then that young guy with dark hair who always sat on the far right side of the room stood up and said, ?Wait a minute. Can we really say that God loves everyone who comes to our churches? I?ve read my Bible and it seems pretty clear to me that God loves some people and not others. I?ve heard you talking about welcoming drug addicts and prostitutes and homosexuals in church and I think must make God angry. I just don?t think we can say God loves ?those? people.?

I was dumbstruck. After all as the minister at Extended Grace I go out of my way to invite ?those? people. People who have been told they have no place in God?s house of worship. People who came to church seeking God?s grace until the gatekeepers would not let them in.

Jesus warns us in a roundabout way that it is not up to us to close any door. He only ever calls us to follow, to continue in his way. And he says if we do, we will be free. And if we don?t? Are we really keeping someone out? Or are we merely locking ourselves in and stopping our own journey forward? Jesus says, ?Step out of your self-made bonds. Continue in my word and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.?

We pursue truth by following Jesus, by opening ourselves up in order to experience a deeper level of reality. We seek to connect the body, the mind and the spirit with the divine. Jesus understood this. Jesus didn?t write down a list of facts for us to memorize. He said, ?I am the truth. Look at me, learn from me, follow me?that alone is what you need to be free.? The truth is not ?out there? but right HERE?in you, in community, in fellowship with other children of God.

There are a lot of people selling a religion out there that says if you only pray hard enough, give enough money, and believe the right things, God will reward you with untold blessings. It?s the theology of glory. It?s a theology about ?me? instead of ?the other.? And it?s a theology that ignores the truth of the cross. A theology that leaves people abandoned and hurting when things go wrong. A theology that drives people from our churches and in its worse form drives people away from God.

Extended Grace enters into the brokenness of life in order to reach out to people who have become disillusioned with that message; people who need to hear that God?s message of grace and mercy is for them. People who have lost faith?not in God, but in human institutions that claim to have God all wrapped up in a tight little box they called ?truth.? People who need faith communities that offer authentic love and acceptance, honest relationship, and an openness to seeking God in a way that does not restrict God to human dogma, or to boundaries of gender, race, background, ability and orientation.

Over and over again I find myself talking to people who think they know what Christianity is all about?and they don?t want any part of it. But the Christianity they reject?the God they reject?is not the Christianity I follow or the God I know.

The truth shall set you free. Truth is a spiritual quest, one that embraces ambiguity, celebrates community and recognizes doubt as an important part of any faith journey. We discover truth by experiencing and practicing it. Faith isn?t about believing the unbelievable. Faith is about radical trust in God. And radical trust casts out anxiety.

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