I’ve talked about the static in life and its impact on my faith. Well, static has a virulent cousin: people. When we allow it, people, and people and their views on life, love, and even scripture, can sway our relationship with Jesus—and not necessarily in a wanted direction.
The sway began early on for me.
I once served as press secretary for a national feminist organization. On one assignment I prepared our leadership in Florida for the onslaught of media during the trial of Paul Hill, a man who gunned down a doctor and abortion clinic escort.
It stands out as a scary time—and in fact, traveling alone on an 18-hour overnight train ride to the Pakistan India border to ride a camel for two days seems to pale in comparison.
I wore a bulletproof vest during the week’s trial, the heat and sweat beneath my clothing, a constant reminder of the possibility of violence. After court one day, I stood in the driveway of the clinic where the doctor and escort were murdered. Blood stained the driveway and I randomly thought, “So this is what pools of blood look like when it’s soaked into the pavement.” I can still see it so clearly in my mind.
On the sidewalk in front of the clinic stood a crowd of Paul Hill’s supporters from across the country. They applauded this man’s actions and their signs passively indicated they’d like to take out more of us. A sparse police presence both at the clinic and daily in court kept us on edge.
I juxtapose this emotional and physical experience with what was going on in me spiritually at the time. For a few years I had been drawn to the Christian God in very tangible ways. I hungered for Him. I felt His peace come and go. And oddly enough, that day at the clinic, I felt a presence (I believe God’s presence) as I looked out at His people. Unnerving is an understatement.
I wanted nothing to do with God, Christianity, and especially these people, yet a fast-moving current carried me along. The God stuff didn’t go away.
A few years later, I finally took the plunge and become a believer in Jesus. The memory of the trial and dozens of other experiences didn’t fade. In fact, they served as a reminder of the dangers of religion. During that fragile period of new faith, I determined in my heart to embrace Jesus, but not His people or their views. I was terrified I’d develop into an activist that claimed to respect life, but left out the lives of all but the unborn. I didn’t want the hate or acrimony on the right—or that on the left anymore.
More than 15 years later, I no longer fear God’s people. (I may dislike them at times…) I’m fairly confident in my worldview. Yet I’m still needled by the same issues. How do I draw closer to the Father (and trust the Father enough) without fear of developing a worldview twisted by man? Haven’t I been drawn to legalism in the past?
The Bible says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” 1 Corinthians 13:12.
I love that verse. Outside of some clear truths, it intimates that none of us can have the absolute market on “right”—either in theology or worldview. And yet knowing this, many Christians still claim their views on a whole host of scriptures confirms both. They wouldn’t admit as much, but they act and react like they see things perfectly.
For me it makes the never-ending growing in faith process fraught with land mines. Will God protect me from adopting rigid views on gender? Will I wake up one morning and snicker over President Obama? Will I cash in my political views for a membership in the NRA? Will my compassion and respect for other believers be drained by an internal drumbeat of criticism?
I am saddened that so many friends have been pulled away from Jesus and the orthodoxy of their faith. They naturally react – as I do – but in the process they move farther from their first love. It’s a slow, insidious process, like sin, chipping away at all that’s good, pure, and holy. I deal with it daily in my own heart.
I’d be interested to hear your perspective.