Yesterday I posted a story about my experience with churches. I asked for people thoughts on Facebook and my friend Emily had some thoughts about her experience with Christianity so I decided to share it.
You’ve heard people say, “I’m more spiritual than religious”. For the most part, it is used way too often as a way for people to get out of discussing what their particular beliefs are. I have said that I’m more spiritual than religious, but I use it to lead into a conversation about WHY I think and feel the way I do about religion. I don’t discuss it with just anybody though, and here’s why:
I think the fundamentals of any religion are a fine idea. They give people something to put their faith in, a code to live their life by, and they provide moral guidelines for how to live life as a “good person”. But what is the true definition of a “good person”? This is where the issue of organized religion comes into play. I identify myself as a Christian because my religious beliefs match up the closest with that particular branch of religion. However, just as with any other opinion (political beliefs, etc.) I will never fully agree with EVERY aspect of a particular religion. Some of the things that are so wonderful about spirituality are the personalized feelings and thought processes that come with it. I believe that organized religion is an attempt to assimilate people into one specific unit with no individual thoughts. I can’t speak for all introverts, but the problem I run into with the evangelism portion of Christianity is this: I do not openly discuss my religious beliefs. I do not wish to push anyone who doesn’t share aspects of my beliefs away. I also do not wish to be negatively judged based on my beliefs. If asked, by someone who is open-minded and who is non-judgmental, I will gladly share with them the cornerstones that I choose to live my life by. However, at 25 years old, I am still developing what exactly I believe in. I refuse to live my life, being scared that a big red guy in a cape, who lives in a big fire pit is going to “get me” if I do something wrong or if I choose to stay home from church. I also refuse to believe that there is a big man up in the sky who is watching everything I do, ready to punish me for every wrong decision I make. I was raised to believe in a forgiving, loving God, not one who is angry and disappointed in me all the time. I choose to believe that there is some form of higher power, who helps us to find comfort in our daily lives. I oftentimes thank this higher power for the simple things in my life-being born into the particular family I’m in, being blessed to have the close friends that I have, having the ability to be an in-depth thinker who is talented musically, artistically, and with who has ability to cook well. I live life according to what I would define as being a “good person”, and that includes being thoughtful and caring toward others, helping them when I can, and not tolerating the growing hatred/prejudice in this world. Evangelism is too harsh and abrasive for me to want to do it-it’s a way of saying, “Hey! I don’t know you, and I don’t care what your beliefs are…you’ll be better off if you come join my church and think in exactly the same way that we do. Otherwise, since you clearly aren’t going to church every Sunday, you’re going to hell. Have a great day!” I am incredibly introverted, to the point where people exhaust me, and I’m highly prone to fits of anxiety if I have been around people for long periods of time. Walking up to new people and starting a conversation about ANYTHING is completely terrifying for me. The last thing I want to do is try to convince somebody to join a religion that #1 I don’t know everything about and #2 I don’t even fully believe in. Some of the most down-to-earth, kind, considerate, giving people that I know do not attend services at a church. Trying to go out and fill the seats of the benches at church every Sunday, just to make people feel like they’re somewhat contributing to their well-being is ridiculous to me. It’s much more of a testament to being a living a moral and good life if you are out there DOING something to make the world a better, more tolerable place-NOT making a show out of religion and saying “Look at me! I attend church every Sunday, and I pay money to help the church grow. I’m definitely going to Heaven! You don’t go to church….good luck with your trip to Hell!” I think that your ideas behind spirituality and faith are way too personal to be classified into religions. I have the highest amount of respect for people’s beliefs and would never judge somebody based on what they consider to be the center of how they live their life. I’m just not going to go out there and preach at people about why they should believe what I believe. Part of what makes society so interesting is the coming together of everyone’s ideas and practices…why try to make everyone the same?!
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