#2 in my series of rabbit trails beginning from my new book
title=”Spirituality With Clothes On”>http://wipfandstock.com/spirituality-with-clothes-on.html
In my last blog I suggested that sexuality and gender might be best understood to be on a spectrum rather than according to binary categories. The same applies in many other aspects of life. We used to talk about many things in binary categories. We talked about race as black and white; now we recognize many colours and shades. We talked about marital status as married or single; now we have numerous statuses. In regards to wealth we used to talk about rich and poor and even added middle class, but now we recognize it is a relative spectrum. When it came to intelligence we had “smart” and “stupid” or “normal” and “retarded”; now we recognize many different types of intelligence and again speak of a spectrum when it comes to mental abilities. Does the same thing apply to faith?
We used to talk of Christians and non-Christians; now we recognize that there are many religions. We used to talk about having faith or not having faith. I quote Kathleen Norris on page 20 in my book: “Faith is best thought of as a verb, not a thing that you either have or don’t have.” Perhaps faith also is on a spectrum. It is good to talk about our faith as a journey. On page 22 I quote Gordon Smith on conversion where he says that it is a “protracted series of events.” James Fowler entitles his book, Becoming Adult Becoming Christian [quoted on page 66] implying again the spectrum of faith. It is a process of becoming.
U2’s song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” used to be controversial for some Christians but I believe it is a powerful statement of faith. “I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields, I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls only to be with you, but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
It is now more than twenty years ago when I first quoted that song in a sermon based on Psalm 27. It was my candidating sermon for my first full-time job as a youth pastor [I did get the job at Braeside Church in Winnipeg and I’m going back there to preach in a few weeks for the first time since I left]. Now more than two decades later, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for! I’m still on the journey.
Classic books such as Pilgrim’s Progress or The Lord of the Rings are all about quests that symbolize this same theme. Why are these best sellers? Because they illustrate the human desire for relation to the Beyond; the quest for Transcendence. They illustrate something about us. In the dull drudgery and sterility of every-day life at the office or job site, we long for something more. We leave the safety of the Shire and we head off on the journey of life. We know not what adventures will befall us, but we set out in faith.
The reason why many adult Christians never grow in their Christian lives is because they think they have found it; they have arrived. They may seek and grow by leaps and bounds during their youth and young adulthood, get baptized, join the church, and then they’re done and it‘s all coasting from there. I think it is better to think of faith on a spectrum; there’s always more regardless where one is at.