One of my favorite theologians, Jurgen Moltmann, once wrote, “What if this ‘being a Christian’ that I am being asked about is not something at all? What if it is something that is in a continual process of becoming? What if our self-examination has to confess: I am a Christian and a non-Christian at the same time? Faith and doubt struggle within me, so that I have to continually cry out: ‘Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief!’”
As well, my favorite spiritual teacher, Thomas Merton, also said, “In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we were going. In another sense we have already arrived. We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and in darkness. But we already possess Him by grace, and therefore, in that sense, we have arrived and are dwelling in the light. But oh! How far have I to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!”
I— and, I believe, my generation — resonate with thoughts like these. The Christian faith, for us, isn’t about having arrived in perfect possession of God. We are struggling (even daily) with all sorts of doubts. We doubt God’s existence in our day-to-day life. We doubt God’s existence through times of great struggle. We doubt our beliefs in God. We doubt the Church. For us, it’s not about certitude. It’s not, as Merton says about arriving at the perfect possession of God in this life. For us, being a Christian is about a becoming. Being a Christian is not a destination, but a journey and process to be lived. For us, it will be less about Orthodoxy (although there is a place for that, although I don’t think many people even know what that means.), and more about finding God in the everyday moment.
We want a sacred journey. We want a meaningful story. We want to be realistic in the fact that this is something that we ourselves are working out, and that God is working out in us. We want to make space for the whole journey. And, in so doing, be about the mission and do God’s work here and now, not just worry about whether we are going to heaven or going to hell. I imagine that we will agree with N.T Wright’s words, “Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.”