Sunday, 28 July 2013

Atheist at Bible Camp

So I am not an atheist, but I did look at Christianity from much more of an outside perspective this year at camp.  I found myself concerned not with what is true, but what is beautiful.  Perhaps truth is absolute, but beauty is not.

I began to see Christianity less as a set of beliefs, or as a way of life, but as a loosely fitting label some people take upon themselves.  It no longer seems to be an entity, rather it is a somewhat meaningless distinction...  or so it seems to me.

Christianity can be beautiful.  It can be inspiring.  I think that Jesus lived a beautiful life, but the things that he did are not beautiful because he did them, rather they were beautiful before he did them.  Christianity is beautiful when it is selfless.  When it puts others first.  When it focuses on loving people, really loving people.

But Christianity can also be ugly.  it can be selfish, self focused and experience based.  my experience becomes the thing that matters.  I don't like Christianity.

There are extremes in Christianity.  On one hand we could look at Shane Claiborne, and on the other we could consider Bethal Church in Redding.  Claibornes way of life and of thinking seems quite beautiful.  Bethal does not.  The God of Bethal seems to care about making rich people happier while forgetting about the poor.  I saw the influence of both Bethal and Claiborne at camp.  Christianity seems to be fluid, easily swayed by emotional speakers or experiences. 

Christianity can be beautiful.  Selfless, other focused servanthood. But people can live their lives beautifully apart from Christianity.

I wonder about Jesus.  The Gospels contain stories about him that can inspire beautiful lives.  For that, maybe I will read them, maybe I will share them and be excited by them.  They are stories that I'd like to shape my life around, but Christianity...  I don't need it.  Jesus never told his followers to accept a religion.  He asked them to accept him.  I think I can accept the things that he did, most of them anyhow, and try to shape my life around them.