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Tag Archive | "Christians"

Some reassembly required

By Ronnie McBrayer

Many people begin their walk of faith, and everything goes as they expected. Out of genuine conviction, they attend church, learn from the Scriptures, volunteer, serve, give, and become “productive, committed, faithful, Christians.” But somewhere along the way things go terribly wrong.
The orderly, stalwart faith that used to “work” for these true believers becomes a muddled mess. Yes, they once taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, chaperoned the youth group, chaired the Stewardship Committee, and had bullet-proof answers to all questions of faith. But then, all at once or over an extension of time, their faith splintered into a million tiny pieces. A divorce. A child falls deathly ill and heaven seems silent as a stone. An accident leaves the once healthy college student broken and mutilated. The circumstances come in variegated form, but the impact is the same.
It is more than a crisis of faith, more than theological bump in the road; it is an unraveling that robs people of their confidence and comfort. The once unshakable believer descends downward into the blackness of doubt. Adding insult to injury, sometimes the only thing the church or we ministerial types can say in those moments is, “Pray more. Just believe. Let go and let God. Try harder.” Not only is this insensitive, asinine advice, it simply won’t work. Those who have hit this kind of barricade feel so dismantled, that to keep doing what they were doing—only with more enthusiasm—is impossible.
Here is your choice: You can harden your heart and sweep the shards of your faith into the dustpan, giving up on God completely; or you can pick up the broken pieces, with bloody hands and heart, and reassemble faith on the other side of doubt. No, it won’t be the same faith you once had; it will be dramatically different. It won’t be an improved or updated version of the beliefs you formerly held; it will be a new construction altogether. This reassembled faith will not provide you with all the answers to all your questions; instead, it will help you to see the world, God, and people differently.
So if you find yourself crushed against what feels like the concrete and steel of disbelief, with not a drop of faith left, I understand. Don’t throw it all away just yet. In the breaking, you might find that faith has a new beginning.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off

Born to be wild

Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

When primitive Christianity first began to take root, it wasn’t known as “Christianity.” The first Christians referred to their movement as “The Way.” The earliest disciples saw themselves, not as part of new religion, but as travelers in the Way of Jesus. This “Way,” consequently, was something active and dynamic, bound to the living Christ. It was not some dead religion seized with rigor mortis. The passing of the centuries, however, has seriously muted this fact.

According to researcher William Hendricks, over a million Christian adults leave the church every year. Many do so “not because the church is too spiritual,” he says, “but because the church is not spiritual enough.” Large swathes of Christianity have traded the untamed vitality of its Founder for something far more domesticated. Somewhere deep within us, we know this is a tragedy. Our spiritual instincts tell us that there is something more, something deeper, more radical and more alive than the safe, sterile, status quo of the religious institution. We know we were born to be wild.

Once, while on a wildlife expedition near Yellowstone, I observed a party of hunters stalking several hundred elk on a game refuge. These animals circled and panicked like proverbial fish in a barrel as the hunters closed in. Finally, one of the big bulls in the herd decided that he had had enough. He stampeded between two of the would-be trophy-takers, the space no wider than a sidewalk, and when he did, the entire herd followed. Hundreds and hundreds of animals ran for daylight, and in minutes, the herd had completely disappeared into the Wyoming woods.

These beautiful animals have lost a good deal of their habitat, but they have not lost their instincts. They still heed the wild and wonderful call of the wilderness, forsaking the false safety of the “refuge” for life with fewer fences. Granted, life in the wild is full of predatory dangers as well; but at least it is life outside of a man-made cage. Jesus, it appears to me, wants us to have this kind of freedom, for he did not come to start a religion. He came to start a spiritual revolution. Jesus did not come to show us how to build cathedrals or ecclesiastical refuges. He came to show us how to live. Jesus did not come to fence us in, but to set us wildly and wonderfully free.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated faith columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit him at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off


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