Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Profession of Faith

There comes a part in the Catholic Mass where all of those present are invited to join in a Profession of Faith also known as the "Nicene Creed." When I learned it as a child it was called the "Apostle's Creed." It is amazing to me that after all of these years I still know it. I can recite by rote, every word perfect. But, it always bothered me that I knew it so well I never had to think about it or what the words meant.

I was raised a Catholic and did not question any of the doctrine or dogma until I went away to college. My world opened up there in many ways. I was exposed to many new ideas and I subsequently began to question some of the old. I started attending bible studies with a prayer group. I had never really studied the bible before. As a Catholic we learned from the old Baltimore Catechism. During my sophomore year of college I became a reborn christian and began to drift from the church in which I was raised. There were just too many discrepancies between what I was reading and in what I had been taught.

I left college after that year and moved to Minneapolis. I began to sample different churches and religions to find one that I was comfortable with. I went to Baptist churches, Assembly of God, and finally ended up in a charismatic church in south Minneapolis called the Jesus People Church. It was there that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I became an on-fire Christian and you could not shut me up. I witnessed to everyone I saw. At a bus stop, in a bar where ever I was. I was out to save the world! I would not be stopped! My family didn't know what to think of me. My mother thought I had joined a cult and talked to the local priest about it. I remember one long talk with her when she began to cry. I was very confused, my brothers and sisters began to avoid me. I no longer felt comfortable in the church I had been going to. I felt out of place, like I wasn't a good enough Christian. I felt unworthy and stopped going to church altogether. I still believed, I just never found a church I was comfortable with.

Years past and and I began to develop my own creed, my own profession of faith. What was truly important to me? One thing that I always recalled was that we were to be Christ-like in our behavior. I had never felt comfortable or accepted anywhere, by anyone. I had always been somewhat of a loner. So that became part of me, I would be accepting of all. I also got the feeling that too many people were too quick to judge others. I mean who are we to judge. It's not our job!

Rather than witness to people about my faith, I listened instead. I was a friend first. I didn't judge or tell them what to do. I just was there if I was needed. It was amazing! People would talk to me about anything for hours. I would just listen. I found myself occasionally lead to certain people who were in great need. I swear I quoted bible verses I never knew. Words seemed to come from another source. It is hard now to explain it, but it was like I was just a conduit. And somehow they were comforted.

Along the way I also found my church, but it wasn't in a building. It was a walk in the woods on a sunny day, breathing the fresh air and truly marveling at what God had made.

So where am I going with all of this? Oh yes, my creed! I found that through all I had learned and experienced, that the best way that I could serve God was to be the best person I could be. I would respect others and their opinions even if they were different than my own. It mattered not if they were Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, whatever. They had come to their belief system in their own way as had I. Who was I to tell them that they were wrong. Who was I to judge them.

I was never the type of Christian who wore it like a badge, flashing it to all. I was quiet and preferred to teach and lead by example. I had learned that lesson the hard way when I was a young, baby christian. I wanted so much to "save" all of my family and friends that I drove them away. I pushed in instead of being invited. I was truly obnoxious! You cannot lead anyone to anything that way. You pretty much just piss them off and then what have you accomplished.

And that is the problem that I see with many Christians today. They are too quick to push in where they are not wanted or needed. They judge what is right or wrong and condemn those who do not believe as they do. I feel it is not the right of man to judge by God's law. God will be the judge himself if necessary. I get the feeling that some feel morally superior to others. These are the ones that ultimately give Christians a bad name. They talk of the lost lambs who have not yet found they way. Give me a break! Do they really think anyone will listen when you just get in there faces with a moralizing attitude, confront them and tell them they are wrong! Oh my God we are all going to hell!

Ok. Maybe a little extreme there. But, I hope you get my point. It is the method and the attitude I oppose. Get out of peoples faces and remember the message. Remember that Jesus called the apostles to serve and to teach. You can always be of service, but you can't teach someone if they don't want to be taught or don't feel they need to be taught.

So that is it, the profession of my faith. Take it or leave it, it matters not to me! Like I said, I'll listen, but I won't barge in and tell anyone what to do unless they ask. Unless I am invited in.

This article was first published on azsky13.newsvine.com on December 2nd 2008

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