My dear friend –
Recently, you told me you consider yourself agnostic and you aren’t sure you believe in God.
First, let me say, I get it. I really do. Matters of faith and spirit are not measurable in the traditional sense of the word. There is mystery, nuance and wonder involved in our perception or knowing about the divine, and you are a person of intelligence and curiosity accustomed to dealing in facts. You are smart, and you don’t just accept other people’s opinions as truth.
In addition, some of the people who identify as “religious” in the media are scaryvehement purveyors of hate and discrimination. Why would anyone want to join a club with members who seem to embody the polar opposite of what their faith teaches? How can any truth be found there?
Even though I understand why you would doubt, I still experienced a deep sense of sadness when I heard you say you aren’t sure you believe in God. Although the semantics of faith matter little to me, having a relationship and ongoing conversation with God is the greatest joy of my life, and, because I love you, this joy is my greatest wish and desire for you. I can’t say what is true for you or for anyone else, but I know what is true for me.
From the time I was a little girl, talking to God was part of how I dealt with the world. My mom taught me to pray, so I did.I too have regularly been frustrated with and hurt by the church, but I have continued to talk to God even when I stayed away from church for a time. I have battled, questioned, read, studied and doubted in a million different ways, but I’ve continued praying because I believed someone heard me. The more I prayed, the more I experienced God. Through all the valleys, prayer felt as real, tangible and true as any relationship in my life.
As I got older, I began to sense my faith was somewhat selfish and too much about my personal comfort. Although I knew God wanted to continue to be my comforter and friend, I began to sense there was so much more. He wanted me to grow into the best version of myself I could be, and growth required sacrifice and intentionality. If I was created in the image of the divine, connection to the divine was the path to my better self.
You once told me how you find it interesting that I seem to think the best of people, a tendency that makes me different. I think you are talking about the tangible “fruit” of walking closely with God for a number of years. Simply put, you become more like those with whom you hang out, and for many, many years, I have been hanging out with Jesus. What you see in me is a direct result of my lifelong faith, not a personality characteristic. Left to my own devices, I am more often selfish, self-involved and critical of others. If your perception of me is true, it is Jesus you see in me and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
My worldview is intimately connected to my understanding of God and how he connects us to one another. My deepest relationships are with those with whom I pray. I love how Jesus talks about the kingdom in the Gospels, an ideal world where we live in connection to our maker and to one another. Once we decided as humans that we didn’t need God and could be our own god instead, we also determined we were all on our own and didn’t need each other anymore. In seeking and finding God, we find our way back to each other and find our way home. The Christian story as told through biblical stories is a beautiful tale of redemption and return. Within the pages of my Bible, I have found truth, strength and purpose. The words of Jesus in particular astound me with their call to radical, sacrificial love. Through those words, the world makes sense for me.
Here is the thing, my dear friend
One of us is wrong.
Either there is a God who cares intimately about us, woos us and desires to lead us to our best selves and to lives of meaning, purpose and co-creation with him.
Or it is all a lie, and I am a giant fool.
It can’t be both.
I have bet my whole life on my perception and belief that goodness, truth and a life of meaning is found by following Jesus. If I’m wrong, if there is no God or if God is disinterested or ambivalent, then so be it. My life has been based on a tremendous lie.
But what if it is true? What if I am right?
If I am right, living a life connected to God is a radical game-changer. If I am right, seeking God is a joyous, sacrificial, transformational ticket to an adventure like none other. If I am right, chasing after Jesus is a brave, bold choice and only for those who are willing to be instruments of change.
And if I am right, it is the life I wish for you.
Don’t give up on God, my friend. If I’m right, God will never give up on you.
Originally published on www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com.