A Gathering Voices Post by David Maxwell
The greatest commandment for a Christian, according to Jesus, is twofold: we are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:28-31)
Last week I wrote about qualities of Christians where we show our love of neighbor and self. We called that the thoughtful part of being a thoughtful Christian. This week we focus on the love of God, the Christian part of being a thoughtful Christian.
Thoughtful Christians study the faith. We learn about God from the testimony of others. Whether it is a parent, a friend, a coworker or a book, we first hear about God from others’ experience. It is helpful to then learn from more witnesses and sources.
Thoughtful Christians have faith. Having faith does not mean having the answers. My biggest disappointment with much of Christianity today is its emphatic, dogmatic claim of knowing just who God is and how God acts. It denies the mysterious, holy nature of God and turns life into a handbook with step-by-step instructions. Missing is an appreciation of the holy unknown and the humility that comes when we live the questions. Having faith is committing to struggle for our lifetime, searching for God’s unlimited Truth.
Thoughtful Christians share faith. Just as someone shared the sacred story with me, I go and tell others. I tell them what I have learned not in order that they may be saved from some eternal fire, but because of the good news this faith has meant in my life. When I meet people from other faiths, it is not my job to challenge or dismiss their belief of how God works in their life. We share our faith in the hopes that we both learn more about God.
Thoughtful Christians love God’s mysterious diversity. The creation account in Genesis 1:27 says that God made adam (humans) in God’s image. Male and female they were made. When I look at the crazy variety of the human species and think we all represent God’s image, what must God look like!? When I love and see God in the faces of my friends and enemies of all shapes and colors, I get a small glimpse of the Divine.
Thoughtful Christians belong to a worshiping community. We live in a time of explosive change in the way our faith communities organize and function. It can be scary if we hold on to bygone eras when certain institutions thrived that are now disappearing. It can be an exciting time to participate in a community where others struggling to live the questions and learn and share their faith also are. Perhaps we are returning to the time of Acts, when believers shared what they had with one another in wildly risky and unselfish ways compared to our current society norms.
These are a few of the practices I identify. What are others?
Additional Resources from www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com