I don’t care what you believe if I don’t like who you are

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why exactly I’m a Christian.* And I don’t mean I’ve been thinking about why “one” in the general sense would be a Christian, I mean why have the faith. So, I’m not going to present a hole-proof outline of all the philosophical or historical arguments for Christianity. Those are important,  but when it comes down to it… my reasons for believing are rather idiosyncratic, with a smidge of touchy-feely. But hey! I betcha if you had to break down specifically why you loved your bae specifically, you would get pretty touch-feely, too. So cool it!

Anyway, a large part of why I believe is the character of some of the people that I know who believe. Not all of them are perfect, and to be sure some of the people who I know are Christian – whether nominally or “for realz” is beyond me – are not particularly encouraging to my faith.

*But* there are some people who I just can’t not believe when I think about them.

Why?

1) They are smart. They can use logic. They aren’t overwhelmed by complexity. They can understand and consider the merits of opposing views even if they ultimately reject them.

2) They are wise. They use their resources appropriately, without crossing over into (paradoxically) self-aggrandizing asceticism. They frequently have and facilitate conversations that lead to reconciliation, instead of stubbornly and foolishly escalating every conflict that comes their way.

3) They are kind and joyful. When they smile at me, their eyes reflect the warmth straight from their lil’ cinnamon bun hearts. I always feel encouraged and more energetic after I talk to them.

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Bless their ooey-gooey, warm, sweet hearts! (pixabay free image)

 

4) They are good. I feel like “good” can be seen as a weak word, but it’s absolutely perfect for these people. It’s unassuming, yet solid.. and true. The output of their lives is just … good. Or put in negative terms, the output of their lives is NOT bad.

5) Their families thrive. I don’t know if I can emphasize this enough. There are so many people who are super impressive in various ways, yet the people who are closest to them – who are most affected by the day-to-day decisions of their lives – are miserable train wrecks.** But these people’s families are – although far from perfect – functional, balanced, healthy.

There’s probably more, but my attention span is wavering, and I’m the one writing all of this! My point is, all the 5 points above coalesce into a loveliness that makes me… long. Yes, long! I want to be like them. Not in a jealous, creeper way, but in a hopeful way. Seeing them live this way — inspite of our world being an absolute shoot-hole sometimes — is very bolstering. And lo and behold, what drives this sort of behavior? Well, they would say their faith in Jesus.

Now, I’m sure there are also some Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. who are also admirable. So here we get into an phrase that is used ad nauseam in academic circles – neccesary but not sufficient. Good character is necessary, but not sufficient, for me to be open to hearing their world view. Does admiring someone’s character mean that I have to accept their entire worldview? No, I s’pose not. But it does mean that I will at least be open to listening to and considering their worldview, and find out what’s driving their amazingness. THEN I will also look into things like logical consistency, historicity, etc.

On the flip side, if someone is living a life that seems out of control, toxic, and damaging to the people around them, I don’t particularly care to hear their spiritual or theological musings. I may listen respectfully for a few minutes, but at the end of the day I’m kinda like, “It’s nice to know which underlying worldview makes you a jerk.” That may sound kinda harsh, but… amiright?!

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I’m going to wager a guess that this chic doesn’t have the character clout with these dudes to tell them nuffin’! (pixabay free image)

 

Why I wanted to write about this is two-fold. One, it’s convicting. Am I living a life that is attractive to people, that they would even want to hear what I believe? Or are they thinking, “Yah ok, let me know when your Jesus helps you not be a self-absorbed a-hole.” Two, it’s clarifying. With all the worldviews and opinions being thrown around, sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with which one(s) is/are true. My advice is to “clear the field” of ideas*** by focusing on the beliefs and claims of people that you actually admire and want to emulate. TRUST ME, there are so few that this will free your time considerably.

Alrighty! Go find yourselves people worth ‘mirin’! And Holy Spirit, help us be people worth ‘mirin’!

 — EDITORIAL NOTES —

*It would be a lot easier for me if I wasn’t. Neuroscientists are not exactly impressed by Christianity. Also, dating would be much smoother.  #sacrifices

**Not that everyone should be held responsible for all the actions of their children, spouses, close family members, etc., but if  practically everyone close to you is in a state of chaotic self-destruction, that’s should be a huge, blinky-light sign that there is some sort of toxicity in your interactions. Conversely, if practically everyone close to you is flourishing like strong, well-nourished alabaster trees, it’s a perty good indication that you are creating environments that enable people to be their best.

***Remember I’m talking about general worldview / theological / spiritual beliefs and opinions. Obvs, someone with terrible character is quite capable of having brilliant insights into how brain networks interact to support memory, how isolationism affected the U.S. economy, etc., and their ideas on these sort of subjects may be worth considering.  even if you want to punch them in the face afterward.

 

 

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19 thoughts on “I don’t care what you believe if I don’t like who you are

  1. My sister Margaret lived with two women who were extremely devoted to Christianity, my mother and my Aunt Cindy. My father was always, at best, a nominal Christian. He was a good engineer, a good father, and someone skeptical of various doctrines of Christianity, and fairly indifferent to faith, in general. I remember my mother beating my brother Joey so hard that he reacted like an abused animal: flinching as she walked by, because he was afraid of another outpouring of rage. He was about 5 years old at this time. He was totally naked, sitting on a chair in the kitchen, and I remember the incident vividly. I remember her beating my tiny 3-year-old sister Susan and saying, and I quote, “I’m not going to stop hitting you until you stop crying.” But she was hitting her so hard that Susan could not stop crying–it was a hellacious request. She was beating my littlest twin brothers, and I was old enough to probably be able to defend myself, so that I went in there, and I broke the wooden ruler with my knee, and I said, “That’s enough.” When my mom found the diary of my older sister Kakki, she was so enraged that my older sisters had smoked cigarettes, and that my oldest sister Esther had lost her virginity, she threw heavy blunt objects at them. She tried to hit me in the head with a heavy blunt object once; I blocked her, and she scolded me for “being disobedient”. She bit my sister Margaret, in a rage. Her constant fighting with my father was part of what drove my brother Jimmy to suicide. I know that, because he told me so. When he was 26, we were talking on the phone, and he was revealing to me, very vividly, suicidal ideations he had had. One of things he shared, during this very disturbing conversation, was, “Is it fair that Mama and Papa would fight on my birthday?! My birthday–just one day they had to take a break!”

    Why did I mention Margaret at the beginning? Because she told me very directly, that the testimony of Mama and Aunt Cindy versus the testimony of Papa was the “necessary but not sufficient” condition which discredited Christianity in her mind. The knife cuts both ways. There are countless individuals who grew up in Christianity who lost their faiths because of Christians who fit exactly the description of “the toxic individual” you described.

    Believe it or not, I love my mother. She’s only human. She’s done many many things out of love for me and my brothers and sisters. And we brothers and sisters and my father have shown here a lot of affection and appreciation, and she has done the same for us. And she has apologized for wrongdoing, and we have sincerely and tearfully accepted her apologies. But it does not change the fact that the following functions do not allow many individuals, Margaret and myself included, to reject the null hypothesis that

    B1 = B2 = B3 = B4 = B5 = B6 = B7 = B8 = B9 = 0

    love(x) = B1*x
    joy(x) = B2*x
    peace(x) = B3*x
    patience(x) = B4*x
    kindness(x) = B5*x
    goodness(x) = B6*x
    faithfulness(x) = B7*x
    gentleness(x) = B8*x
    self-control(x) = B9*x

    where is x is faith in Jesus. And if we can’t reject the null hypothesis, we have to consider other hypotheses why some people exude these goodly qualities and others don’t. 8 out of 10 of siblings could not reject the null–that is, we are no longer Christians. That seems statistically significant.

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    1. That’s really awful, I’m so sorry. Your mom is/was plainly abusive, and that sounds traumatic.
      I totally agree it works both ways. It breaks my heart that your most “up-close” view of Christianity was from someone who hurt you and the ppl closest to you.
      My point is that if a person is seeking answers to questions that have major implications for how they live their daily life, it makes sense to focus on the answers from ppl who have the most admirable daily lives. As I mentioned, that doesn’t mean their response should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker, but it gives them street cred so I at least respect what they have to say. And THEN come other questions, like, “Okay great, but what about people who use the same faith you’re claiming to justify abuse?”
      Of course, some ppl would rather evaluate each view from a more detached, academic-like perspective and then see if the promises of a particular faith / worldview pans out IRL. .. and that’s fine too. I personally find the more tangible IRL applications more compelling, but to each their own (as long as their own eventually leads them to Jesus 😀 😀 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting… sans lovingkindness… unimpressed? Is that an accurate summary? Hehe. Thanks for your kind hearted reply. It means a lot to me.

        Peaceless grease.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jes!
        Bereft un-deniable lovingkindness.. meh! 😀

        Of course! I am truly sorry. 😥

        Peaciest of all greases!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ezekeial 13:10a: Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Grease,” when there is no grease…

    (I think it’s a prophecy about the depletion of fossil fuels…)

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      1. It was supposed to be part of our already-existing comment thread, not a new comment, where we were playing around with your “peace and grease” farewell, and my counter-farewell “greaseless peace”.

        Like

      2. Well esqueeeeeeezzzzee me, my attn span must fade after 1 week 😜

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lol 😅 yeah, I thought of it then, but was busy at the time, but when I recalled it, it was just too brilliant not to share 😜

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “Brilliant is in the eye of the beholder” 😂

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      5. Jk 😘 (on grease)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. ☺️

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      7. You caught me 😳

        Liked by 1 person

      8. But they are PEACE-Y #fullcircle
        Ok I think/hope we’re done here. 😁

        Like

      9. You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old. 🎭

        Like

      10. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, i’ God’s name; I have done.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. 😲😵😄🙌

        Liked by 1 person

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