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vision for faith exploration

This morning I have been praying and thinking a lot about vision and something that has surfaced is a longing for spiritual seekers to have a safe place to explore their faith. I think we live in a time when there is significant anxiety that Christians will shove faith choices in the faces of those curious about faith. Earned or not, the fear is really there. It is there for me come to think of it.

Sometimes what I hear in my faith world are words that suggest the Bible is absolute truth and we must absolutely believe it. That language feels sort of like a hammer or a coercion mechanism--such words feel almost violent, militant. I love the Bible but God never meant it to be a controlling forceful book. I believe God meant the Bible to engage us and invite us into a story about God and his engagement with humanity. In it we find God's desires for humanity to live in relation with himself and how much God has done to draw us to himself. It is a book filled with wisdom for living. It is more, it's a book that in some way paints a picture of God to us so we might know him and his heart toward us. It is an invitational book and we are invited to dwell in it, explore it and mine its wisdom.

We need time to explore the Bible and explore God like we do in any new relationship. That is how trust is born in any healthy friendship or marriage. Accept in caveman jokes, no one woos a loved one with a club... neither does God.

Could it be that we are so anxious about our faith and our beliefs that we do not allow room for sometimes lengthy and sincere exploration. If we truly believe that the Spirit is at work in some one's life, perhaps we will let go of control and let God simply reveal himself in ways that are life-giving and respectful to that person.

I am not sure of how this would be played out in action but i dream of a church that would provide such experiences either in a small group or another kind of setting. Like any relationship in development, we need safety so trust can be built. So much of faith is not well understood in the marketplace as it has often been voiced and imaged solely by one particular brand of somewhat militant, political Evangelical Christianity and that is often a pretty scary image--appearing more like a bully club than an invitation to friendship.

I think there is beauty in the faith and in the Bible that is why i have devoted my life to teaching it. I long for people to explore it deeply and choose belief because it is indeed meaningful, full of wisdom and life-giving. I treasure my relationship with God and the respect he offers me in relation with him but that has taken a long time to develop. And I need to allow that space for others as well.

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