“Who you are now, is not who you were then. For who you are now, is not what you have been.”
~ Prophetic Poem
I live my life according to a poem.
I know it sounds weird, but then again if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time then you’re familiar with my special brand of eccentricity. If not, well, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. I lead a pretty unorthodox life. At first glance, I look like the last person you’d expect to be a Christian. I’m tattooed, I have holes in my ears, and jewelry in all kinds of places. I’m not above swearing if I smash my hand with a wrench. I drink booze, and I listen to more heavy metal and indie music than any human should. Throw in the fact that as soon as March hits my faux hawk will be in full swing, and you have someone who should not be a Christian.
Yet, I am.
I know what some of you are thinking, and no I’m not one of those token ‘cool’ Christians. I’m referring to the twenty-something who shows up at the local teen hangout with the requisite earring in the ear, black tee, and Bible tracts scouting for fresh blood for the youth group. Instead, I’m just another human being, trying to be human. Yet, it’s hard. My faith is constantly challenged. Specifically, its legitimacy since I don’t fit into any worldly definition of ‘Christian’. Yeah, I said it – worldly. In 2007 a study conducted by the Barna Group confirmed what most of my generation already knows – that the Christian faith is viewed as a hotbed of judgment, hypocrisy, racism, misogyny, and the list gets worse from there.
Having grown up around the folks who back that perception up, as an adult, I avoid those behaviors in every aspect of my life. That includes my spiritual one, and right there is where the challenge lies. There is an assumption that the beliefs and worldviews I hold to are either the result of my political conversion back in 2008, or my spending the first 21 years of my life outside of the church. Other ‘explanations’ include everything from the New Age, to collusion with dark forces. Long story short, none of these so-called ‘reasons’ are true. I have the perspective I have now, because of God, and the way He has changed my mind and heart over the last nine years.
Despite popular belief, Christianity promotes spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. All throughout scripture, God praises those who attain wisdom, who are able to teach and be taught, and so on. That right there is why I just shake my head at the whole Evolution vs. Creationism nonsense. If your faith in God is so weak that it’s easily challenged, undermined, and dissolved based on a scientific theory then perhaps it wasn’t there to begin with. My faith isn’t determined by my beliefs about the origins of life, or the age of this rock we call a planet. My faith is determined by God, and God alone.
I believe the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, I am an avid proponent of Intelligent Design, and I don’t discredit the evolutionary process. I also believe that if God wanted to split a rock in half, and make a live bunny come out of it He could easily do so. After all, I’m the same person who drove a 1989 Honda Accord from Anchorage to Eagle River, with no brakes, no hydraulic fluid in the lines because of the lack of brakes, and was able to stop at every light. Not to mention drive 65 mph down the freeway to Eagle River where my mechanic informed me that there was no way in Hades my vehicle could have stopped, and at one point asked if I was pulling his leg. If God can stop a 1500-pound sedan, He can do anything. If you don’t believe me, read Jeremiah 32:17 and 32:27.
Nothing is too hard for God.
Another criticism I receive regularly is based on my diet and lifestyle. In the real world, I’m a vegetarian*. I’m also an adherent to holistic and sustainable living. The old adage ‘live simply so that others may simply live’, isn’t some New Age nonsense, it’s the truth. Right now our world has an unhealthy obsession with Mammon (Google it), and that obsession has even made its way into the church. Prosperity theology isn’t some fringe teaching, it’s everywhere. We’ve gone back to believing that if we’ve got lots of stuff, then clearly we’re in God’s favor, and that hubris is why we now have this idea that being poor is a ‘lifestyle choice’. Not only that, if we see someone living the way I, or most of my friends live, the assumption is that it must be because we’re ‘liberals’.
My spirituality is why I eat the way I eat, and live the way I live. I don’t eat processed foods, or anything I can order out of a microphone. I also avoid commercial dairy products, meats, and anything that falls in the GMO category. I don’t do this because I’m some tree-hugging, bunny-kisser, but because I believe that everything we need to have proper nutrition and health can be found in our natural world. I’m not pro-environment, pro-renewable energy, and pro-organic because of some political bent. I’ve taken these positions, and adopted these beliefs based on the changes God has made to my mind and heart. Last I checked, internal transformation bought about by spiritual renewal and growth is a good thing.
My stepfather says that if you can change the way a man thinks, you can change who he is, and that is true. I’m not the same person I was nine years ago, and the person I have become is due to the relationship I have with God. Not for any other reason. Although I suppose if that were so, maybe it would be easier for my critics to accept.
*Just to be clear, I’m not saying that if you’re a Christian, you need to be a vegetarian. FYI, I eat fish and seafood as part of my diet, so I’m not a total vegetarian. Also, if you’re a Christian and wondering – yes, you can be a follower of Jesus and a vegetarian, or a vegan, or what-have-you.