I was recently part of a Bible study where the tone – and apparently intention – was quite different.
As the leader asked a series of programmed and predictable questions (literally from the back of the book), I noticed that almost everyone seemed to be looking at each other warily as if they were searching for the ‘right’ answer. And they seemed to share the assumption that there was – and should be – only one ‘right’ answer.
And, above all, that the ‘right’ answer should be comfortable and familiar and should certainly not challenge any of us in our thinking, and definitely not our values, lifestyle or behavior.
And I realized that most ‘Christian questions’ that I hear are like this; they make us and our faith smaller, not larger, more about ourselves and our concerns, and less, usually far less, about any divine destiny for ourselves, our communities and certainly for the world.
Morf over at Red Letter Christians doesn’t mince words when it comes to his spirituality does he? I believe that he points out one of the biggest needed changes for most of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We just don’t ask the hard questions or anything requiring action outside of our immediate clan. We want a comfortable religion, one that fits like an old glove.
Looking to others for the “right” answer as Morf says is an all too familiar scene for me. I have come to realize that there really are no “right” answers. Right answers are most often dependent on your experiences and attitudes at a given time in your life. One person’s right answers can be quite different from another’s. All of us are at different levels in our spiritual journey. Simply stated there is no one “right” answer.
One thing that irritates me more than most others is how we want our answers to fit comfortably within our current circumstances. We want our world to be smaller, not bigger. I can recall one clergy leader who I personally knew who constantly said that all God expects of us are things like taking care of your immediate family. He just never challenged us to get out of our comfort zones and do things for others. In my mind that cheapens the words of Jesus and especially his actions. Jesus told us that all of humanity is our family and we should be as concerned about everyone as we are about our biological brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. But since this particular clergy was Lutheran and they do seem to have an aversion towards works I should not have been surprised at this approach to following Jesus. I will sadly admit those words fit very comfortably within his congregation and in me for a time. It is easy to follow Christ when you don’t have to get out of your comfort zone.
When we make our version of religious faith small and about ourselves or immediate clan and not about divine responsibility for our communities and our world we are taking a much too easy road in our spiritual life. It is not about us. It is about loving others and yes even giving them the shirt off our backs or maybe some of our tax dollars if they need it.