I find myself in spiritual discussions where my Christian faith is choked by a narrow box of Calvinist Augustinian thought, when billions of intelligent people before me have said smarter things than my small-minded kid’s drawing of God. No single system of theology has the monopoly on Jesus, because Jesus is a person and not an idea that I can squeeze into my safe sorry studied-up checklist.
I find those mocking other camps in Christianity, divided by tiny flagpoles no higher than the two-foot ivory tower they’ve locked themselves into from the inside. There is a snobby doctrinal vocabulary, an immature sort of bullying that implies no one else understands but “me,” certainly not “them,” because “we” got the truth in my abstract systematic outline of God and “they” don’t. I seem to remember Jesus jumped out of Heaven for “them” too, and crossed an infinite ocean of sin to die on a cross for others who mocked him.
When we see the Cross, we can mistakenly see a limited obtainable knowledge, like a trophy on a shelf that is static unto itself and gets you into Heaven based on sermon points one through seven. But did God become man to become a mental agreement? For factual foreplay? To be engulfed by categorical dogma as a weaponized ideology against the stranger? You call this spiritual warfare and I call it the hatred of self-justification.
I behold faith as a living, moving, pulsing, breathing dance — an uncontainable hardly explainable dynamic in its endless contours like waves of grace washing the sands of our rigid rebellion. God is throwing haymakers at our stubbornness, an uppercut at the self-justifying fortress of our inwardly curved souls. You can read Scripture, or you can breathe it. One dies at your fingertips; the other thrives in your lungs and your language, the way you extend your hands into the dirt.
You will breathe differently than I do. You prefer silence; I prefer Starbucks. You like journaling; I like long walks on the beach. You enjoy the crowd and company; I walk my dog and shut the door on the world. You sing louder than the band; I soak in lyrics like an angry sponge. You need an intellectual sermon; so do I, but with passion. You want the megachurch; I want to know whose shoulder is touching mine.
So we are still unified by Jesus. He makes room for tough guys like you and wise guys like me. So we are still His body, loved by a love that I am not worthy to fully comprehend, but enough to know I am to love you, dear stranger, with all my bleeding heart and soul.