My first experience with religion was as a young child. I prayed with my grandma and asked Jesus into my heart. As life progressed I would ask Jesus back into my heart about once a year in case He had made a hurried exit due to some unconfessed sin. I'm all about being over insured, so to speak.
Needless to say I was scared into believing thanks to a childhood of going to different churches as a result of a hard core, religious step dad that believed people were hell bound if they weren't baptized a certain way. He felt we were the enlightened ones and it was our duty to evangelize those who didn't know the truth.
Thankfully I realized Jesus doesn't work that way.
I was so grateful to leave that part of my life behind and frankly, I'm still burned out by church attendance. Even so, I still claim Christianity as my strength because I've seen enough in my life to know that grace exists and there is hope beyond my present. My faith sustains me, even in periods of tragedy and uncertainty.
My children are also Christians and teach me on the daily the value of faith. I'm not always happy these days to claim Christianity as I've seen first hand just how cruel Christians can be. I see more faith in those that claim other faiths, simply by watching them in action and fighting fiercely for the rights and justice of others. They are living Jesus core teachings, to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
My husband is a Buddhist. While not a practicing, lotus flower floating, incense burning, orange robe wearing monk, he does respond to the Buddhist philosophy. Living life with intention and mindfulness, loving his neighbor and looking out for the oppressed. I know most Christians would argue, "Well, that's not enough."
My husband loves Jesus. He loves what Christ stands for, he loves the principles Christ taught. He loves His humility and selflessness. Its His followers that frighten him the most. Time and time again he has witnessed the abuse of the Christian faith, of those going against the very principles that Jesus stood for.
While I go about my daily nonsense, my husband is buying groceries for strangers, supplying first aid dressings and giving gloves to the homeless. He works in the less desirable area of downtown Portland and so his opportunities for service are abundant.
As a Christian, I am humbled. I thought I was supposed to be the one doing all the service because of my faith. But its my husband and countless others of various faiths living a life of service and intention. Meanwhile I'm sipping coffee and judging Christian legalism from afar.
Despite people's difference in beliefs, I think there is a common denominator that intertwines us.
Its the core of our existence. The decree set forth from the beginning to love your neighbor. If I only would embrace it like the many others who are forging a path of resistance against cruelty and injustice. Instead of simply talking about it, they are taking action. All this to say, for one that embraces Christianity, I have much to learn.
My husband respects my faith and I respect his. It works for us and I believe we are better for it because it opens new doors of communication and respect for one another. We have learned something profound. Our core beliefs aren't so different after all....