One summer. Two writers. One blog.
I’m in the middle of a theology cleansing. It’s mildly- no, very stressful. Maybe not actively stressful, like I’m not thinking of the meaning of scripture in the middle of Bold Bean’s line. But, as I write these words, I’m hyper aware of my uneven breathing and quick heartbeat.
I just don’t know anymore.
I grew up in a church that dismissed women’s leadership, same sex relationships, and even other Christian denominations and perspectives. I was told there was one truth. And any thought outside of that was displeasing to God and proof of sinful, easily-deceived nature.
I bought into this for a long time. Even when introduced to the CCW space, I struggled to reconcile the unorthodox behavior of the community to what I was told Christians are to be. So I spent a few semesters awkwardly dipping in and out of gatherings.
Eventually, I decided I didn’t need to “pick a side.” I opted for neutrality. I thought,
“Who am I to say what’s pleasing or unpleasing to God?”
And this was heaven. I didn’t have to have an opinion on women pastors, or the LGBTQ+ community, or the validity of religions outside of Christianity. I didn’t have to have an opinion. And then, I felt God calling me to ministry. And then, I realized I’m not straight. And then, I stopped identifying as Christian. And then, all of a sudden, it was no longer heaven. I’d come to see that by choosing to not stand by anyone, I was standing against myself.
It has been a deep joy and honor to get to know me. Cause yo, I’m cool as hell. But it’s equally unsettling to know these same, recently-discovered parts are things I’ve been taught deem me unfit of the Kingdom. Thankfully, I’m also being taught that sometimes we get God wrong. That our convictions aren’t always Spiritually-based. That sometimes, it’s just tradition.
This is where Paul, author of Romans, comes in. The entirety of Romans is an attack on tradition- on the idea that any person could be seen as unwelcome, that God is not large enough to meet each of us where we are. Paul brings us into the story by calling out the Jews for their hypocrisy. The Jews felt special. Rightly so. They were the chosen people, deeply loved by God. But chosen for what? They were chosen as instruments to announce God’s love for the rest of us. God never intended for this love to be hidden, and greedily kept within the Jewish communities. It was to be shared. Only, the Jews wanted to share it on their terms. They began demanding the Gentiles to adopt their culture, their brand in order to join in. For any other path would be wrong and displeasing to God.
I mean, sure, modern day Christians aren’t excluding uncircumsized members of the church. But, we exclude those who aren’t modest enough, straight enough, quiet enough, loud enough. We say, “God is not of you” to those who are pro-life, to those who engage in premarital sex, to those who stand by All Lives Matter, to those who once went by Denise and now by Dennis. We create these boxes, tailored for our own experiences and beliefs, then question when others can’t comfortably fit into them. To those we say, “God is not of you.” And to say God is not of you is to say God is not for you. To think that God cannot be for anyone is not only wildly insulting to the character of God but also proof of our minuscule understanding of who God is.
God’s loving of us has nothing to do with us. God loves because God cannot help but love. God is faithful because God cannot help but be faithful. God cannot be anything outside of what God is. It is “not dependent on human desire or effort, but entirely on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16). And friends, what a Merciful God we serve. What a Persistent God we serve. What a God. And how you choose to relate to this God, whether He’s Him, or She’s Her, or They’re They. Whether Friend, or Caretaker. Whether Mediator, or Defender. God is all. God is in all (Colossians 3:11). Therefore, there is no place God isn’t. Therefore, you cannot be where God is not. Therefore, wherever you are, know that you are so well-loved, so well-seen, so well-held.
Breathe this in, breathe this out. Settle.