Clarification and Explanation
I really don’t get the analytics that WordPress has installed. 136 page views today? Crazy, especially when I average 40-50. Wish more of you would comment so I know precisely why you are all stopping by…I can tell which pages are most popular, so I understand blogging about topics such as Harry Potter and Dead Space 2 (and so near to it’s release) would show up in SERPs, but seriously…
Not that I’m complaining!
I’ve got several different blog ideas jumping around in my head, but none that I’m willing to pull the trigger on just yet. Instead, I feel like I need to do a clarification or explanation for a lot of things I’ve said lately on this blog. First, a story…
I used to know this girl. I thought she was pretty cool, enjoyed talking to her, getting to know her, etc. Even attempted to ask her out a few times, but it wasn’t happening; we remained friends. A while later, I heard from friends that this girl thought I absolutely hated her, and her denomination as well. I tried to defend myself, saying in as many terms as I could think of that that was simply not the case, that in fact I liked her, although at that point more as a friend than anything. I even said that not only did I not hate her denomination, I considered myself as part of that same denomination, and while I had my criticisms of it, I still loved that denomination and wanted to see it flourish. Yet no one believed me, to my regret. And so, friendship broken and lost, we stopped having contact, and our mutual friends did their best to arrange it so we never saw each other (mainly by doing the “oh yeah, we just saw her last night, you should have been there” and then never actually letting me know ahead of time when they’d see her), leaving me in the position of still wanting to be friends with this girl, and still swearing allegiance to our mutual denomination…
Setting the girl aside, my point with this little story is that while I may criticize Christianity, Christian denominations, Christian theology and doctrine…I am always coming at it from the standpoint that I want to see it improve by removing it’s flaws. I criticize because I care. I wouldn’t criticize if I didn’t care deeply. Sometimes, people don’t understand that, painting me as extremely negative, pessimistic, and even a heretic from time to time; I’ve been called it all, and often to my face. And it hurts.
One of my life goals is to criticize as little as possible; I earnestly want to be the person that makes everyone else happier and more joyful. That is my base desire…that is my “flesh”. What ends up happing though is that my base desire runs headlong into the religion I was raised up in, that branch of Christianity that does nothing but criticize and stand in judgment on others because they have a monopoly on truth. This is what I grew up in, and while I hate to use the term, I was more of a victim than a practioner of this mindset, but became a practioner after I left them…to my shame. My environment shaped me. I internalize a lot of things, and my mind runs in circles, always seeing reasons and motives, the rhetoric behind the meaning of words, and how people will react to things. I’m fairly proficient at reading people, and can see what will make them react or how they will react to things. The success rate I have at ‘predicting’ events or reading people is scarily, saddingly high.
Plus, I read alot, and anyone who reads a lot begins to develop opinions, reasons, and, let’s be frank, does tend to know more than those who don’t read. The reason why Paul, Peter, Jesus, and others were so influential and could speak so powerfully is partly because they read the Scriptures and knew them well.
I subscribe to Michael Patton’s blog, Parchment and Pen, and he reposted this old article this week from October 2010:
We have all been around those people who feel the need to correct everything we do and say. They are not much of a joy to be around. I have many people from this blog that when I see their name in my inbox, I know with unfailing certainty it is some sort of criticism. Some people are the watchdogs of the world and they cannot help it.
Why do we get like this? Because we are learners. And learners are understanders. And understanders believe they are right. And being right makes other people wrong. And if you are wrong, you need a teacher. And teachers need to correct others. We need to write people.
Some of us are this way. We just cannot help correcting people. When we are able to stay silent about it, we merely move the party indoors and begin correcting them in our mind. The problem is that nobody wants to be around us. We lose all our influence.
This convicted me, as it is what I absolutely hate most in this world, having had it done to me growing up, and it’s apalling that there is any trace of this in me today. And yet, I can praise God knowing that only by his mercy and grace am I not worse than I am, and in fact, am far better off than I have ever been. Yet that is small comfort when people have made up their minds about me and have written me off as just another angry, pessimistic person. It guarantees that I can never mend friendships like the one I lost with the girl mentioned above. It feels like the exact opposite of grace, a decidely anti-Christian attitude…but who can blame them? I can’t.
I mentioned above that one of my life goals is to be the person who makes everyone else happier and more joyful, something I know I can only do with the help of Jesus (beyond God-given natural charisma). Part of that is my deep desire to be a teacher of God’s word, whether that is as a preacher, seminary professor, or just a humble Sunday School teacher. I light up when I’m discussing the word of God, showing people just how wonderful God is, helping them understand theological terms and doctrinal positions and their importance! If there is anything in the world I deeply desire to do, it is to teach God’s word and through that teaching help people. That’s why I’m deeply considering going back to school, to seminary, to study either theology, Christian thought, or Christian counseling.
In this sense, I am firmly a Christian hedonist, because I know that by making others happy, joyful, and full of God’s word, I will be pursuing my own happiness at the same time. Far from being selfish, this is a distinctly Christian position, one that I know God will honor.
I make no apologies that my aim at times is to see the Christian church change, grow, mature, flourish, and if that is by cutting out the bad, then so be it. Do the ends justify the means? Not all the time. And I find myself in the position often that I’d rather just be friends with everyone than to have an opinion and God forbid take a stand on it. The cost for reform is high, and I don’t know if I can bear it.
So I would like to leave it at this: I want to be the person who is the most happy, joyful person in the room, and through the life and light inside of me, makes everyone else feel happier and more joyful as well; I also desire to be a teacher of God’s word, training up others, helping them grow, and being deeply involved in their lives; at times my flesh and sinful nature get the better of me and I come across as needlessly critical and deragatory; when this happens, I’m sorry, and I repent, and I work hard against that happening ever again; I deeply regret harming others and losing friendships, and loathe those parts of me that cause that to happen; and while the immediciacy of the now tends to prevent me from pursuing those things that I most desire and want in this world, I know that only by the grace and mercy of God, with His blessing, will I achieve that which I have been created and desire to accomplish.
To that end, my course is set. I know what destination I have in mind. The time has come to stop waiting on God and to start walking with God.
I promise something a little bit lighter all of next week…