According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On (not) Being Insecure Christians

Kathy Escobar: On Insecure Christians

by Rachel Held Evans
November 21, 2011

Today I am delighted to welcome to the blog my friend and a true “woman of valor,” Kathy Escobar. Kathy is the co-pastor of The Refuge, an eclectic and beautiful faith community in Denver. She is passionate about community, healing, equality, justice, spiritual and transformation, and is the author of Down We Go, a challenging book about following Jesus into the hard places of community. When I think of women who inspire me, Kathy’s one of the first to come to my mind because she truly puts her convictions into action. If you enjoy the post, be sure to check out Kathy’s blog, or follow her on twitter.

kathy-escobrI had an amazing conversation last week with a non-Christian counseling grad student who had a project in this class to "move toward something in their culture they were uncomfortable with." He chose Christianity. His experience with it wasn't a positive one so he was trying to bravely explore it. We had a delightful conversation because he asked the best questions, the kind where trite Christian answers won't quite do. He wasn't talking about atonement theories or biblical interpretation of certain passages (for the most part, I think only Christian insiders give a rip about that kind of stuff).

He asked--Why do Christians never seem to feel very good about themselves?

I laughed that he had hit the nail on the head. The basic premise of Christianity is that there is nothing good in us. That original sin has ruined us and we are miserable sinners, unworthy of anything good without the blood of Jesus. That depravity is our essence.

With that as our starting place, my experience has been that despite all of the "God loves me" messages that get tossed around in church services and Bible studies, nothing completely fills in the cracks of that deep chasm. That somehow, no matter what, we just aren't good. We aren't worthy. We aren't secure. We aren't loveable. We are fatally flawed as human beings.

I know this well in my own life. I come from a liberal, non-churchy family that believed in the basic goodness of people (we were those people who evangelical Christians worried about!). When I opened my heart to following Christ, I needed a real, tangible God and was strangely and beautifully drawn to Jesus. I always say that if I had just stuck with that and never became involved in the kinds of churches I ended up attending, I would have been better off in the security-as-a-person department. But alas, that is not my story, and the rigidity and rules sucked me in, and I learned about what a miserable person I was without the cross of Christ. I ended up feeling worse about myself than when I started, and I brought a lot of shame and guilt to the table from the beginning! Christianity seemed to cement in me my badness. It reminded me constantly how much I fell short and how unworthy I was without God in my life.

About 17 years ago a wise and beautiful friend rocked my world with an important theological twist that some of you might say "duh!" at, but it was never taught to me in my hyper-conservative-evangelical circles. We were made in the image of God. That goodness is in us from the beginning. Sure, sin and brokenness has infiltrated this Genesis 3 world, but we must remember it all started with Genesis 1. Man and woman, created in the original image of God. That is our essence even though brokenness buries it.

I think that the spiritual journey is to uncover God's image that was originally placed there.

I know from experience in my own life and journeying alongside many others that this is no easy task. It makes it far worse when the starting place is "I am really a miserable wretch."

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7 talks about the struggle of our humanity to lean into sin. This passage is used all the time to hold up basic depravity, but we forget the twist that is there--"It's not me, but the sin that lives in me" (vs. 7:12).

As a mother of five, the last thing in the world I want my kids to think is that they basically suck and are unworthy, unlovable. I want them to know they are beautiful, created in the original image of God with his imprint built into every fiber of their being. I want them to know they are worthy, secure, free. With a great human capacity to sin, fall, fail and really mess things up, sure. But I do not want a faith that forces me to build in them a basic insecurity from the start. That feels cruel. And completely counter to what I know about being a loving parent, and I'm only a human one.

My experience in working with people in pain in the church is that there's an awful lot of insecurity going around in a system that is supposed to be built upon freedom, healing, and wholeness. Far too much fear, depression, inadequacy, unworthiness exists in countless Christ-followers when they have a chance to be really honest. Something is gravely wrong with this!

But the systems we've created and the theologies we've clung to perpetuate it.

Ultimately it not only damages us personally and relationally, but keeps the real power of the church paralyzed and stuck.

And really insecure.

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