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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faith is a relationship, not a belief...

I love watching "Real Time with Bill Maher." I like it best when it shoots for comedy rather than serious interpretation of political and social issues, but even that can entertain me for a while...and every now and then they talk about religion.

This gets funny because usually there are no "religious experts" at the table talking, so basically when the talk turns to religion you have four people giving opinions about stuff they don't really think about...and sometimes when there is a religious expert on the show, such as the brilliant theologian and activist Cornel West, (Google him, he wrote my favorite book of American philosophy)it gets downright comical as the three others try to tell the religious expert what religion is. (Fortunately they, and West especially, are good sports!)

The problem most critics of religion, and in this case they include Christianity, and often make no distinctions amongst Christians (as if our 2000 years of internecine wars and battles have made us more alike than different), but critics of religion often replace "faith" with "thinking," and that is wrong. The opposite of "faith" is not "thinking," "science," or "reason"; the opposite of faith is lonliness or alienation. In Chrisitanity "faith" is about relationships, not about believing. You can believe anything you want and still have faith in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. And this is because your relationship to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit comes from faith, not from what you "believe."

The one trick to getting Christianity is to remember that God doesn't care what you "believe." God cares about your faith--that is, the relationship God establishes with you in creation, the relationship God continues with you in the Spirit, and the relationship God continually remakes with you in Jesus Christ.

So the comics and thinkers on "Real Time" make fun of Christians for what they "believe," but Christians believe all sorts of things, not much differently than anybody else...but attacking what Christians believe does nothing to attack what makes Christianity the most powerful religion in the history of the world: a Christian's faith (relationship) with God, and God's faith (relationship) with Christians. I am not a Christian because I wanted to love and respect gay people, or I wanted to be a faithful husband, or a good father, or someone who cares for creation...I could do any of that without being a Christian--Christianity has no monopoly on morals and ethics--I am a Christian because I have faith that there is a God who loves me, who cares about me, and who wants to see me thrive...just as God desires that for you, and, ...for all of us, even someone like Bill Maher.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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