This is a great question. It is a great question because I also consider myself a Buddhist and a Pagan. How is this even possible? Juggling my beliefs isn’t as complex as it may seem. I think you can find truth in a lot of places. When you are looking for truth, you find a lot of similarities. Then, you can see where things differ and why they differ and what makes sense and what doesn’t about those differences. The key is to look with an open eye instead of a closed one.
““The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Why I incorporate Buddhism and Paganism…along with other religious truths from a variety of world religions, is fodder for another blog. Today, the question is why Christianity?
That is right. Why would I choose Christ? Why would I even want to align myself with a group that can veer, dangerously, off a conservative cliff when not tethered, surely, to Jesus. I have a friend, who isn’t a Christian who, can’t for the life of her, get why I am Christian, not only because of the doctrine but because of the body of Christ, tends to not look a lot like me, in a variety of ways. I have Christian friends who I love dearly but who make me cringe when they interpret the Gospel in ways that demean His message, exclude God’s beloved children, or make God small.
First, I was raised…oh, from about 9 years old on, as a Christian. I learned the symbolism, the feel, the lingo. That same “feel” touches me today. So, Why Christ? Well,
Why am I a Christian? I will give you a less simplistic example from my life. I went through an experience that really rattled my world. I don’t cry that often and it made me cry, for quite a stint. I have a friend from the East Coast whose daughter is being physically abused. Her daughter is no longer in harm’s way but is behaving badly. Of course she is. It seems like a no brainer to me. Without counseling of some sort, it is a hard muddle to plod through toward mental health after the torture, this young girl endured. Both physically and mentally, abuse does a number on the person receiving it. Abusers don’t start by punching you in the face, they start by degrading you to the point where you believe you deserve a punch in the face. I talked to her father and despite their acknowledgement of her being abused, both parents just can’t get over her behavior. They are facing the brunt of it, to be certain, but no one can stop being angry for one moment to look past this behavior to what is really going on.
Why would this story implicate my Christianity? Here it is. My first instinct is to have compassion, regardless. If you are enduring terrible behavior because you are being compassionate, okay. If you don’t want to endure this behavior, find help so that you can forge a way ahead in love and kindness. I am not all gooey like that at all times. We live in a real world and feelings assault me, as if out of nowhere. However, that “gooey” place, is where I want to be all the time. Even if I feel angry, or feel upset, or feel irritated, or feel put out, or feel right…..I know there is a way that brings great joy and great peace that tells us to rise above these feelings and act a certain way. That way is the path of the servant. That ways is the path of Christ. It is a way of living that gives others the benefit of the doubt. That… is the counter-intuitive absolutely magical and fun part of Christ. (A part, you miss, if you are all wedged up on rules and laws) The more you love, the more you show compassion, the more you minister to the most unlovable, the more you are lifted up. You become happy, joyful, and free when you are compassionate, grateful, and forgiving. It is magic.
Let the naysayers nay…they can be right (and angry, or upset, or irritated…or whatever negative feeling they are clinging to in the name of being right), that is okay. I choose joy and Jesus Christ is a darn good path.
It is a strange thing to think that I follow Jesus for more than just the salvation bit. Well, that is a big deal but in another crazy counter-intuitive way that keeps shocking me the deeper I get. Forgiveness ~ Gratitude ~ Compassion. It is another joy bringer. Beyond the salvation Jesus Christ provides, the Sermon on the Mount gives us this wonderful pathway to joy. Just a couple days ago, our Daily Office Gospel Reading was Matthew 5: 21-26:
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Appropriate, don’t you think?
Jesus tells us to stop being so stinking into our own feelings. Step out of yourself and love others. When we love others, as Jesus loved us, we will find joy. It is not easy and, yet, it is the easiest thing ever. It is about allowing and releasing. It is about getting over your ego and stepping into joy. Wow! It is real. I know it to be real. Now that I think about it, maybe it is all about salvation. Maybe finding this joy is salvation.