July 18, 2024

The thing about the Christian life, at least the way I live it, is that it doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone.  I know some people have been very hurt by individuals who are Christian.  I’ve probably been the hurter myself at times for some people.  I’ll say that one thing I know is that hurting is a human trait, not a Christian trait.  Though all Christians are human, so I get by association it is a Christian trait.  The point is, it’s inescapable.

Side bar:  I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for reading and for being so supportive.  I have really appreciated the positive vibes and prayers.  It has helped knowing there are people out there who are reading and relating and wanting to help if they can.  I’m humbled and reminded of how so many of our problems are better if we just let people know we are even having them.  So thanks again, friends.I’ll mention a special thanks to my dad, Gene Packwood, who decided to come all the way from Medicine Hat a day early for a meeting so he could take me for a beer.  That was a great thing for us to have done together, and I consider if a highlight of my year so far.  Such a simple thing…  Thanks, Dad.Feeling like your coming in part way through the conversation?  There are earlier posts that share the “faith” tag with this post. Read them if you want to catch up.

Click here to read the other posts with the “faith” tag.

Also there are many more people that have been hurt by what the church culture puts out there.  Sometimes I find that its the church culture that condemns a person.  I’ve seen the case where someone decides they won’t be accepted by a church but can’t identify an event where they were told that.  They kind of just assume that if the church new about this ugly part of them, they would be cast out.  And sometimes this goes as far as being something they so much believe that they cast themselves out.  It’s ironic becuase then you get this group of people who are church outcasts, but who were self-cast.  They are church self-casts.  In their mind though, they attribute the offense to the church often saying things like, “That church is sooo judgmental, they don’t accept people for where they are.” or “I believe in God, but I don’t believe in organized religion.”  For the second statement its like saying, I like the idea of a deity and the feeling of wonder it brings, but I kind of don’t like people.  So I don’t think I’m stretching to say that paradoxically, some of those who decide not to attend church believe more in God than they do in people.  Interesting thought.

1-Prague Castle SpireFor me I’m not really thinking that way.  I kind of like people.  I don’t really like church culture.  It’s great when you see the part of the culture that is supportive.  It’s not great for me when I see the part that speaks in Christianese riddles and overly spiritual language.  For me, all I know all I can really do is get out there and be the kind of Christian that doesn’t hurt others. Better yet I can try and be of help to those who need.  Most of the time it’s not so hard.  Personally i don’t feel when I’m operating under basic Christian principals that I am on any higher moral ground that that average non-Christian guy out there just doing good. This only makes sense to me.

Reflecting back on my early years as a believer I can see that really all my attempts to try and be like other Christians pretty well fizzled out.  I’m not a consistent reader, so bible studies or any other reading-based things are like eating sand for me.  Well…they almost are… I read in fits and stops.  It’s just how I am.  At my most disciplined, I suffered through regular bible reading as a part of that discipline.  Today though, I just don’t have the energy for lots of reading.  I read one book at a time and that’s only when I’m in a fit and not in a stop.  Right now, I’m in a stop.

Friends and family that confess their love for the scriptures have always been kind of a puzzle to me. Its odd to me just how much people seem to love this book. I don’t deny that its helpful when looking for context on the Christian life, but do I love it?  No, not really.  Besides, I don’t know about you, but I have found that in a Christian community there is NEVER a shortage of people willing to try and teach you something from the Bible.  People love to know it and show it…or try and ram it down your throat.  😉

Part of the reality for me is simply that I’ve been involved with this Christian/chruch thing for a long time and the subject is just kinda…ho hum. Not quite boring, because people are not boring for the most part and churches are filled with people, but it’s something close to boredom that I feel. Indifference maybe. Sometimes almost irrelevance.  I mean it’s like a great movie.  The first time you see The Titanic you feel all the feelings and your heart strings are pulled as you face the human element of the story and the element of the story where there is an event that happens that’s kind of bigger than everyone on the boat.  An iceberg.  You watch it over and over again maybe, and this is a great way to become a master of the story, but the heart strings just don’t resonate like they used to.  It loses its luster.  It become ordinary and almost uninteresting.  And such is the religious life.

The way others seem to view Jesus is interesting too. So many people constantly point to Jesus, and I get it, he’s the central person in the Christian story. He’s pretty important. But if I’m honest, I have always had an easier time relating to the screw balls in the bible that AREN’T supernatural beings! I’m more like a screw ball than a messiah. I don’t get how Jesus works.  I don’t get how to be man and God at once.  I do get how to kinda just be … regular. I get how to screw everything up. I get how to put my foot in my mouth. I also sort of get how to live well while being broken.

A big shift for me throughout this phase of life is that I can feel and think all I have been saying and I no longer feel guilty for thinking it. I just refuse to fake it all. It’s either got to be genuine, or nothing at all. Or maybe there is a middle ground where I just kind of feel off about everything all the time. I’ve considered that a lot lately but I’m just not ready to accept that. Maybe I’ll have to eventually though.

You know what? Sometimes I get tired of feeling stupid for believing something as ridiculous as Christianity.  People of science and people of religion have for a long time been at odds.  I am a logical thinker.  I think in systems in which cause and effect are a key part.  Sometimes I think the church does a crappy job of being in our world at this time of human history.  Its embarrassing to watch church leaders try and preach against things like evolution or on the topic of other religions as though these things are simple and straight forward.  This world has very little black and white in it.  It’s so gray.  I could write more on this, but I’ll save it for another time.  The point of bringing it up here is to say that this is a part of some church cultures that makes me mental.  I refuse to check my brain and the understanding we have of this universe at the door when I go to church.

One other big thing for me these days is that, believe it or not, I’m considered a member of our church’s leadership team.  All the other leaders know about what I’m going through.  Some of the other church members do too.  It’s not a secret, but if I’m honest, it feels a little odd to be a leader who couldn’t lead with much confidence at all.  I’ve offered to step down from leadership, but so far, I’ve been encouraged to stay connected and kind of step into a place where I can work it out.  I see this as a really generous thing for the other leaders to do.  For the most part, I’m dead weight on the team, but these guys have lots of grace for me.  They don’t seem to have any fear of what people might say about having a person of shaken faith in leadership.  I think there is some bravery there.  Realness too.  No one really has it ALL together, do they?  Leaders in other churches would have to cover it all up until it falls apart.  I have the slack I need to sort it out.  I’ll be clear though.  I don’t do much of the outward leadership stuff.  I don’t teach.  I don’t do music.  I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that’s how it is.

And what about music? Now that’s a big one for me. Sometimes I think that if I really understood my issues with music, the rest would fall in line and make sense. I’ve written before that music can be a sort of escape for me. Here’s the puzzle. Lately, music has been a kind of barren place. It’s hard to explain. I don’t understand it. I will unpack the idea more in the future. Maybe in the unpacking I will find a clear description for you all (and myself) to better understand.

This post could really go on and on…even more.  So I’ll break it off here.  I want to say more about things like prayer.  For now?  Don’t forget to pray for me.  🙂

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