When deciding to write about this topic, I had to be honest with myself and admit that things have gotten pretty darn personal around here in the past. It’s not like I haven’t shared with you and potentially anyone else in the world with an internet connection that I think Ingrid Michaelson has “amazing” breasts. The main difference here, I think, is the general way I feel many of my peers [ie. fellow young Christian people] discuss faith, which is to say, rarely.
There appears to be a common sentiment of live and let live. “I’ll respect you if you respect me.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s great, it’s just that it all too often results in us [refer to my definition of peers above] not really talking about something that’s ostensibly important to us. All of that’s a topic to possibly be unpacked for another time, though, because today I’m going to try tackling the benefits of faith. To be more specific, the benefits of faith sans salvation.
As many of you probably know from our bevy of blog posts on breaks, postponings, etc., I am now gainfully employed. This is fantastic news right now as I write this, but at the time I felt a lot like Joseph Gordon Levitt in the latter half of 500 Days of Summer:
That adjective is absent a few choice adverbs, like “cripplingly” and “abjectly”. It was a generally bad scene overall, as it combined the stress of learning brand new and vastly important tasks with late hours, a long commute, and the all-too recent departure of my mother from the country while my brother was on a road trip. I felt multiple kinds of low, and without much else to turn to.
I’m not going to pretend that everyone out there, Christian and non-Christian alike, can turn or has turned to God and been filled with peace and, unbelievably, joy. What I can tell you is that that’s exactly what happened to me. Just a few days ago I spent a few minutes thinking on the idea that none of what I believe in may actually be true, which was swiftly followed up by the question:
“Does it really matter?” To break it down just a tiny bit further, would that have changed the way I felt?
That’s not an advocation of believing whatever makes you feel good by any means, but it I think it falls firmly under the pros category of having faith be a focal part of your life. In addition, it had and has absolutely nothing to do with what happens to me after I die.
Following that up is the existence of something that any of the kids I graduated with may or may not groan at, which is capital-c Community. Since I’m still writing largely about Christianity I suppose that could be narrowed down to the capital-c Church. People who have grown up in the same spheres I have will be aware that this doesn’t refer to any sort of building, but instead to the widespread body of believers out there. That’s what I’m talking about, and I am all about it.
Again, I have to preface this by saying that not all places of worship are accepting or even good places to be.
Not everyone who professes to follow God’s teachings is going to welcome you with open arms, or even glance in your direction. A good amount of them will, though.
Last Sunday I walked to the church I had planned on attending that morning and found closed doors; their English congregation was away on a retreat. I decided not to let myself get too bummed and went to join the nearby Anglican congregation for the first time instead. It was the best decision I possibly could have made.
Let’s strip away, for the sake of the topic I’m trying to cover, everything having to do with worshipping alongside others. In fact, let’s also downplay as much as possible [and again with the topic in mind] the act of partaking in the Eucharist and anything whatsoever having to do with the reading of the Bible. Even with all of that removed there still remains this sense of kinship.
That sense of community, of being a part of something, is the reason that atheist churches exist. I also don’t think it’s enough for that community to be founded on any kind of preferred pastime or fandom. You all know I love comic books, but there are plenty of people who fall into that category who are just the worst. The key difference that I can pinpoint among the people I join most every Sunday is that they, at bare minimum, live by a number of tenets that I am totally down with, like loving literally everyone and being considerate and commiserative.
I’ve been thinking about this for over a week now, and at the end of the day being a Christian, or a follower of other religions, though I’m sure I can’t comment on that with any amount of experience, has a lot going for it before you even get to what happens in the next life. So often I see that as the “selling point”, and I’ve just been struck with the feeling that even if that wasn’t a part of the package deal it would still be worth it.
Salvation is great, and it’s one hundred percent something I believe in. You can’t skip over the rest of it, though.