Sometimes I don’t recognize my own faith. I used to think that in order to be a person of faith I had to believe certain things (no female pastors, 6-day creation, guns=good, liberal=bad, to name a few). I also needed to do certain things (“quiet times” – preferably in the morning, vote Republican, show up at “See You at the Pole” and so on).
So when I started shedding some of those beliefs, and consequently some of those actions, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I wasn’t sure who I was. The belief that a follower of Christ must be a Republican was etched so deep that I was genuinely unsure if I could still be a Christian if I decided to vote Independent or, heaven forbid, Democrat. I was 20 at the time and I felt lost. Unsure. And I longed to find someone who could speak to my experience, my questions; someone who might have paved the road before me.
Enter Brian McLaren. I read A New Kind of Christian when it first came out in 2001 and I simultaneously loved it and hated it at the same time. It scared me. But it spoke to me, too. And it set some wheels turning. Ten years later, after a decade of doubt and deconstructing, when McLaren wrote Naked Spirituality, I felt like I had finally found a way – a way to embrace my faith that made sense to me; in a way that felt meaningful and genuine and relevant.
It’s not to say that there wasn’t value in my faith of old.
As McLaren says in NS,
I have discarded those theological wineskins, but I treasure more than ever the wine of the Spirit that was somehow conveyed to me through them. That suit of theological clothing doesn’t fit me anymore, but the naked spirituality that sustains me today originally came to me dressed in it.
I’m re-reading Naked Spirituality now with a friend and I’m appreciating it anew. 15 years down this road and I finally have some mainstays. New favorites to revisit. I feel at ease in my faith now in a way that wasn’t possible just a few years ago and I wonder – is this process familiar to any of you? Have any of you walked a similar road?