If there is anything that I have learned in my short 24 years of life, it is that people’s questions are often better than my answers.
Earlier this week, I shared that my work at the group home has been so moving and healing for me, in all areas of my life. One of the greatest benefits of this job is not simply the work, but, it is also my co-workers. My slightly higher up, like an asst. manager, is our primary resource for when the program manager is gone. He is also an incredibly intelligent, informed and articulate individual. Besides being a funny guy, who I can watch WWE Monday Night Raw with briefly, or comically mock Jersey Shore with, we also talk about politics, finances and religion. My co-worker, however, is not like me in the sense of being a Christian. He does however, does not deny the existence of a God. He calls himself, commonly titled, an agnostic, but, he really seems to be an anti-theist.
An anti-theist, for the record believes the potential existence of God, but, sees such damage being done in the name of religion, that they must renounce all forms of religion and the God in which that religion claims. As for me, in my Christian tradition, I get the questions of “How is God good in all of the suffering around the world?”, “How can you be a Christian with the seemingly contradiction between the Old Testament angry Jehovah, and, the peaceful humanitarian in Jesus?” “How can I be a Christian when Christians seem to be more worried about getting to Heaven than helping the poor?”
If you know me, you know that I am a very emotional person, I hold to a lot of mystery, I believe heavily in paradoxes, I think all of this is necessary to be able to hold some of these seemingly contradictory elements of Christianity and faith. My co-worker, however, is not like me. He believes so heavily in the power of reason, that everything can fit, and, potentially must fit, to have faith. So his questions are great questions, and, they challenge me immensely. Because, I want to be able to answer him, but, at the same time be able to hold the mystery and paradoxes that seem so true to me.
One of the best voices for all of this, his questions, and, have helped me with some of mine, is Greg Boyd. So my Co-worker and I have talked about Open Theism, I’ve talked to him about my Mennonite theology, about peace and non-violence. I’ve told him, that we must see the nature of God of the Old Testament through Jesus, but, see Jesus in the nature of Jesus in the God of the Old Testament (Hence, Jesus’, If you see me, you see the Father.)
Ultimately, what is most true, for me, is that his questions, his doubts, his seeking, albeit in a different way, make me a better Christian. It causes me to wrestle, question, doubt and seek. My greatest hope is, while I believe these are not the last of these encounters, between him and I, or, between me and others like him, is that even if my answers are not good enough, the tone of the conversation and what is exchanged, can bring him a better understanding and feeling towards Christianity. It ought to be the defining characteristic of a Christian to love, and, how we love each other, will be the greatest indicator of our relationship with God.