Well, welcome to the contemporary Christian world of “doubts and loves”!
We’ve all grown up with this notion that being a Christian requires believing six impossible things before breakfast! (There are even some people who will ask you a bunch of questions – “Well, do you believe that Jesus is God?” “Do you believe in the virgin birth?” “ Do you believe Jesus died for our sins?” – before they will consider you a Christian…)
Well, we’ve got news for you: being a Christian is not primarily about adhering to a set of beliefs (it does help, but it’s not imperative); Christianity is about living life a certain way.
I suppose one can say that the “life-style” of the Christian requires some basic beliefs – in a loving Divine energy who dreams of a humanity full of compassion and justice (we’ll still call this “God”, even though this word, for many, is fraught with misunderstandings and bad memories); and in a historical human being called Jesus who was so open to this Divine energy that it filled him with a Spirit of compassion and justice.
But more than about a set of beliefs, Christianity is more about how we live our lives. We try to live our lives as Jesus lived his: open to the whisperings of the One he called his “Abba” (“daddy”); ready to resist the wiles of the dominant consumerist/materialist culture (it was the Roman Empire then…); and willing to engage with the world in order to bring about justice and compassion wherever we see injustice and apathy, even at some personal cost to ourselves.
The implications of this are pretty significant: as Christians, we are called to live our lives in such a way that we help bring to reality God’s Dream for humanity. That implies that:
- we know a bit about that Dream;
- we have an idea of how to help bring that dream about;
- we spend some time and energy to develop the skills to realize this Dream, and that
- we know something of the man Jesus who serves as model for our lives.
This is the context for the Christian understanding of Spiritual Practices. If you choose to continue this exploration, you will encounter many forms of practice – from meditation to fasting – which will all assume at least a basic comfort with the above assumptions. Trust me: most of us continue to carry many questions and doubts with us through our spiritual practices! It comes with the territory!
So, be gentle with yourself. Perhaps you want to start exploring a series of exercises for beginners. Or maybe you want to explore some basic meditation techniques, to see which one best suits you. One of the best ways to start is to see which approaches to meditation work best for your personality type (we use the Myers-Briggs typology).
Not sure you can buy much of the traditional Christian doctrine? Take a look at the new “Song of Faith” of the United Church of Canada…
If none of this is touching you, thanks for tuning in this far, and best wishes for your journey.