This has quite possibly been the worst weekend of my life. It's also probably been the most reflective one of my life, though I wouldn't wish any of this on my worst enemy. It's really weird writing this, but I think it's in my and everyone who cares about me's best interest that I do this. Fuck, how do I put this. For the first time in a long time, I took an honest look at my relationship with God and concluded that there wasn't one. Even scarier, I concluded that I don't really want one at this point in my life. Even though you've gotten the punchline already, I'd ask that you keep reading. I know it's long but it's important, at least to me. However, since it is long, I'll hide the long winded part so you're not forced to read it. Click on "The Whole Story" if you want to read it.
I suppose I'll start at the beginning of this story, as if I actually know where the story begins. I'll just start it at this week. This Tuesday was a Bible study scheduled as there always is, and I didn't go. Worse yet, I didn't miss it. The same thing happened on Friday for Large Group (the large meeting of all the Bible studies). Now, I wouldn't usually think of it, but I did for some reason this time. And now that I think about it, I do know what it was that set everything in motion. Here I am again, lying to myself. On Friday, Hillel had one of the dinners they do to try to get people interested in the club. On that note, as an aside, bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon is really good. You wouldn't think so to hear it, but it is. Anyways, myself, Forrest, Catherine, Joe, Andy (friend of Joe's, acquaintance of mine), Jeremy (friend of Joe's, acquaintance of mine), and others were all sitting together. Andy made some off comment about Joe being a Christian, and I found myself not saying that I was one. This bothered me quite a bit, and I didn't know why I didn't say anything. So on Saturday I sat down and read the Bible for the first time since my Bib Lit class. I wanted to find out if I really believed what I said I did. So I sat down and found that I didn't really agree with some of God's notions of justice. For instance, let's look at Romans 9:16-21
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Well, I don't like the answer given:
But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? It dodges a valid question. How can it be just for someone to be blamed for something they have no choice but do. Sure the creator has the right to make one pot for noble uses and one for common ones, but I don't think I can say "I'm going to break a pot", throw one off the top of a four-story building, and then blame the pot when it breaks.
There were some other issues, though that was probably the main one. Those wouldn't be so bad in and of themselves. Probably nothing that some clarification with someone more knowledgeable than myself couldn't provide. But then today came. I had told my plight to my roommate Dan, who suggested that I go to church with him today to speak with the pastor about the questions I had. I accepted since this I considered this issue important enough to wake up early to go. The last time I told Dan to wake me up for church, it didn't go so well; so I told Dan to drag me out of bed if necessary to get me to go. I was glad I did. While everyone else sang during the beginning of the service, I thought about why I didn't ever make any effort to learn more about God. I concluded that it required effort, and that I didn't want to make the sacrifice. Then what causes me to make sacrifices? Surely anyone who knows me knows that I have made sacrifices. 206, 305, and 435 are all evidence of this. I concluded that I make sacrifices when things are relevant to me. Bettering myself as a computer scientist is relevant to me, so I'm willing to make sacrifices to that end. As a Christian, God and learning more about God should be relevant to me, but I just concluded it wasn't. That's a problem. Then came the sermon.
The pastor spoke as one divinely inspired, or at least he spoke as one with authority on the scriptures. The topic he spoke about was one that I needed to hear: a letter to the church in Laodicea. For those not in the know, this letter talks about a church which was preaching Christianity but not really living it. From this letter comes the famed passage,
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Meaning that one needs to live their live completely for God or not at all; no half-assed stuff allowed. I had heard and read that passage many times before, but today was the first time I took an honest look at myself as I heard the message. I was not living my life completely for God, nor was I not living for God at all. I was lukewarm and needed to pick a side. My decision was made shortly later as the pastor discussed what living a life for God entailed. He talked about the body of Christ being one of people looking for hope, people who know they are unable to live their life alone. But I am an individual; I see myself as an individual and do not really consider myself unable to live my life alone. Being in the Church requires that one want to renew themselves and allow God to change them. I am happy with myself the way I am at the present. I don't want to change. God is supposed to be at the center of the person's life; after an honest reflection, I decided that God is not the center of my life. If anything is at the center, it would be myself. Put more precisely, I do not want God in control of my life; I want to be in control of my own life. These 3 things are incompatible with me being a member of the Church, of me being a Christian. Damn, it's weird me seeing that on print.
I think that I've been fooling myself for some time, trying to make God fit me. That's not something that should be done; one must make themselves fit God. I don't know why I had lied to myself for so long. Perhaps it was easier than rejecting it outright. It's certainly easier to believe the lie than to conclude that you're lying to yourself. Again, it's not something I'd want to see anyone go through. That said, the truth is better than the lie, especially in this case. I at least know that I have picked a side, and am not straddling the fence.
I made an appointment to see the pastor on Thursday at 9. I plan on telling him pretty much what I've written here. I doubt he'll be able to do much, as the decision is all on me. I know what I need to do, but I can't bring myself to do it. Not yet.
The time may come when I'm ready to change my ways and live for someone/something else, but that time is not today. I sincerely hope that it will happen someday, and I hope to rejoin the Church once it does. If/when I do and I'm still around this area, I'll definitely be going back to the church I attended today (Shoreline Chapel, for those who care). I want to sincerely thank Dan for helping me through this. He provided an ear for me to babble, explain, and justify into, and he tried to offer guidance where he could. For his first time having to deal with a crisis such as this, I think he handled it quite well.