On church on Sunday I was listening to the sermon, very closely, and ironically enough I can't really remember what it was about but I can't seem to get it off of my mind. That probably doesn't make sense but sometimes you hear what the holy spirit wants you to hear. The point of the sermon can have everything or nothing at all to do with what the speaker is saying. I don't mean to trivialize the minister because he is a very important tool for God, I just mean that sometimes the message he delivers isn't necessarily what he planned.
Like I said, I can't remember how I got on this path but I can't seem to get away from it. I grew up in an extremely conservative church with a minister who I still credit for helping me get me on my spiritual path. To this day, I don't think I'd have the relationship with God that I have if it hadn't been for Jim introducing me to Him when I was young. Jim also helped me through countless spiritual crisis throughout my first few years of adulthood. He is the one who baptized me, he counseled me when I decide to marry Keith, and he and his wife were there for me every time I needed something, they are truly fantastic people.
When I moved to WV Jim helped me find a "sound church" in town and even called them to get the lowdown for me. Much like most of my experiences in WV, that church presented as open, friendly, and the perfect fit; when in reality it was just one more thing on the list that made me miserable. I didn't fit in and it caused some major hiccups in my life. (personal and spiritual)
I'd expected everything to fall into place but it just wasn't working that way. I ended up leaving the church and leaving all churches for awhile because I'd never gone to any church besides the extremely conservative type and this was the only option within two or more hours. I sort of freaked out and felt totally lost, I didn't know where to go. On my way anywhere from my house, I passed a church and one day they had a sign up advertising Tuesday School with their phone number so I called. I got in touch with this amazing woman, Michelle, and we talked like old friends for nearly half an hour. That was my gateway into a more "liberal" version of the same brand of church I'd grown up in.
That church is where I met the second most influential minister in my life, Mark. Mark was a very open minded, charismatic, kind hearted, and fun minister. Not to say that Jim wasn't those things, but Mark was almost Jim's polar opposite but very similar at the same time. Mark was the first minister I'd heard, since Jim, who I looked forward to hearing every Sunday. I always knew that whatever Mark was bringing on Sunday morning would be spectacular, I knew his sermons would be pleasant, educating, and often times life changing.
What's ironic about these two men is that as much as I admire and respect both of them and as terrific as they both are; if I put them in a room together I'm not sure which one would walk out. Both are Christian ministers but they are pretty far apart on beliefs, and that is what's got me thinking...
How can educated, intelligent, great, Christian men have such different stances? (Or anyone really, not just men.) That's one of those things I don't understand about religion in general. I'm a Christian and I have a great relationship with God. I pray, I study, I try really hard to live a Christian life, and I believe 100% in God, his Son, and the Holy Spirit. With that said, I'm still confused most of the time about how we can all want to do the right thing so bad but we all have varying views of how to go about it.
No one likes labels, but in my religion there is a huge gamete of beliefs and the only way I know to clarify is with the labels. There is the extremely conservative, legalistic, church that I grew up in then there is the other end of the spectrum that I don't know much about but I grew up hearing tales of the "liberal churches" and I think I fall somewhere in between (but closer to the conservative side. What can I say, my roots run deep!)
Anyway, this all has me thinking about it and I can't find the answer and I'm not even sure there is one, but I'm glad we all have a forgiving God who loves us anyway. Whether we have the answers or not, God does and we are all doing the best we can to serve Him and I pray that as long we keep trying He will keep forgiving!