On my fifth birthday I went to McDonalds, and in the midst of my wonderful Happy Meal and playground experience, I also had an experience where I prayed a prayer asking God into my life. Some people might say that was the day I was “saved,” the day I became a Christian. Nineteen years later, I am still asking, what does it mean to be a Christian?
I heard Stanley Hauerwas once say that it upsets him how many Christians make up Christianity as they go. They create their own version of Christianity. To quote Augustine, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” Jesus makes quite clear in the Gospels that the mark of a follower of his is the way that person’s love. So, I am haunted by the question that Augustine poses in his Confessions of, “What do I love when I love my God?” To love God requires both an existential receiving and a personal response. This is the call to faith in God.
Jurgen Moltmann says in his Experiences of God, “What I accept in faith as being certainly true for myself, I accept perceptively in its own truth. What applies to me in faith, exists quite apart from me in what I perceive. In faith I relate God to myself. In what I perceive I relate myself to God. So in the interplay between faith and perception, truth is assured and assurance is true. This means that the question why I am a Christian requires an answer that is subjective and objective at the same time.”
So what is the journey of a Christian? The journey to God is something that is both received and reproduced. It is a matter of seeking and being found. It is of knowing and of being known. It is the call to die so that we may finally truly live. It is a call to deep stillness, and yet one that is calling us to the reconciling story of God. It seems to me, its receiving and living the life of God.
What does that look like to you?