I grew up in a non-denominational Christian home. We church hopped often and visited lots of churches of different denominations. I appreciate the exposure to different beliefs within these denominations and the different ways people worship. I ended up attending APU to get my bachelors degree in Psychology. Through this experience, I found myself very disillusioned with Christianity. I got to the point where I didn't want to call myself a Christian anymore. I believed in Jesus and in his love for others, but I was put off by a lot of different things. I felt very put off by beliefs that didn't match action. I felt put off that there did not seem to be greater acceptance and less judgment. I was frustrated that at a school where every one of all walks of life should be embraced, so many seemed to feel a frustration of being misunderstood and/or unaccepted. I appreciated the teachers and classes that challenged the status quo and realize that for a Christian school, it could have been a lot worse. Regardless of that, there were tons of examples of beautiful representations of people loving God and loving others without preconceived notions of what that should look like for someone.
In my mind, Christianity is about love, bottom line. All that matters is Jesus and his unconditional love for people. His life of no judgment and acceptance of everyone was revolutionary in his time and frankly, it would be nice to see more of that here. There are lots of people from lots of different backgrounds with their own idea of how things should be or are. But who is to say which way is THE way? As a side note, something that I am irked by is when I hear, "I believe ___ because the bible tells me so." This bothers me because it feels like we are being spoon fed Christianity without discovering for ourselves what that means. This goes back to the topic of The Allegory of the Cave where Tricia Ellis-Christensen says in this article, "Language is the barest shadow of reality. People who are firmly committed to a religious view often echo this statement. Faith can’t be given to other people, but must be experienced." I am not saying the bible isn't real or valid at all. I am just saying it often seems like some people revert to the mainstream Christian answer on topics instead of critically thinking about it on their own.
I wrote the above awhile ago. I was very excited to come across my old college books last night. Some of the most thought provoking and stirring material I have read to date was introduced to me in some of my APU classes. I love that about school. L Makes me even sadder about choosing to put off grad school indefinitely for now. I hope to become more intentional about the topic of faith and what I think. As of now, I can say that I love the Jesus who walked this earth 2,000 years ago and made a historical and eternal impact. I do not love the way Christianity has too often become a vehicle of judgment and even hate. As Ghandi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” I think the one consistent truth in my journey of faith is that I have always believed that the whole point of Christianity was to have a relationship with Christ. For awhile, I didn’t want to call myself a Christian but I still believed in this basic truth. And while I must now be more intentional in knowing and loving God, it doesn’t change who he has been. Steadfast. Protector. Provider. These are things he has always been to me, even when I didn’t recognize God in the actions and thoughts of others and in myself. One of the reasons why I love my APU friends so much is because it seemed like they represented this loving & living God in a way that changed me. I miss that. And I miss them for that (and for many more reasons, of course). While I am moderate, some of these friends of mine are some of the more liberal people I have met, but I love that about them. I am eager to re-read some of these old college books and delve further into thoughts of faith, along with some other topics I have always felt passionately for.