Sometimes I get an uneasy feeling about my faith. Uneasy like being invited to party, showing up in sneakers and not realizing it was a black-tie event. See, my faith doesn’t look like the type of my Godly grandma’s. It doesn’t look like the type of my childhood. It doesn’t look anything like my parent’s. It’s not dressed up in a Sunday-best suit. It’s a jeans and weathered t-shirt type of faith. Sometimes I find myself staring in the eyes of my faith and asking “who are you? – you don’t look like what others around you are displaying.” I feel like I have no one alive in my little world to share and compare with. And I desperately want to COMPARE…
Comparing, that is something we do to feel worth and value; to judge and measure; to determine right and wrong. To determine if we are “normal”. Our entire lives balance on comparisons; our own and those of others. One of the greatest superficial comparison tools is that of t-shirts and bumper-stickers (and if you were a product of the 80s – flair pins; think of servers at TGI Fridays).
Of those tools, I find bumper-stickers to be the most compelling because allowing that ‘survive a nuclear meltdown’ adhesive to come in forever contact with a car is making a BIG commitment and statement. For the most part, people only put bumper-stickers on cars for the things they are passionate about – the things they want every single person they publicly come in contact with to know about them. So when I drive around town, I notice bumper-stickers and immediately make a comparative judgment call on any potential kinship we might have. I start to compare.
There are the “honor student” (aka: my child is wonderful) and “soccer mom” stickers. I immediately know I have nothing in common with these people. They are probably nice people (unless they are showing off 3+ honor student stickers) but not someone I will have much, if anything, in common with. Then there are those that profess allegiance to a political party or issue – even if I agree with the sticker, it’s a personal turn-off for me. And then there is the phonetically correct “Ick-This-Fish” (aka: Ichthys fish). I like the fish, but, I’m sorry, it drives me a little nutty. The driver is clearly trying to imply something, but I don’t always believe that’s what is in the contents of that car. Can we just ban fish emblems from cars?
Anyways, as it stands I find few bumper-stickers helping me in my comparison quest for finding people who might share in the same type of faith I hold and feel. I’m having a hard time finding those people who will validate “my faith”.
I recently read the Ragamuffin Gospel (by Brennan Manning). From the very first chapter “Something is Radically Wrong” I thought – “OH BOY, here is someone saying all the things I think! It’s not candy coated with religious overtones. Here is REAL faith, the stuff I feel in my gut! I have got to met this author and all the people like him!” And as I turned the book over, looking at Brennan’s picture, my heart sunk. He didn’t look like me. I compared his outward appearance to my inward feelings and they didn’t match up. And it left me discouraged. If I didn’t have outward clues, how would I ever find others like Brennan to fellowship with? And it felt disheartening to know that it’s going to take more than outward appearances to find believers who love and embrace Jesus like I do without the made-up hang-ups of religion.
Humm, Christianity Without Made-Up Hang-Ups; that SHOULD be my bumper-sticker! Maybe then I could find some like-minded souls! But as it stands I just read blogs of others I think are like me, make comments, and live in this quasi-internet-fellowship-thing. PS: the second runner up bumper-sticker would say “I Love Cotton Candy and My Husband – Not Necessarily in That Order”.
If there was one bumper-sticker you wanted the world to see, maybe it would even describe your faith, what would it say?