By Kevin Sinclair, Minister to Youth
I have a confession to make: I love being a Christian.
I know what you are thinking, “But Kevin, we live in a Post-Christian society and culture where ‘religion’ is out and ‘spirituality’ is in!” I mean, you DO have a point, reader of the blog, but that doesn’t change the fact that, when we (as the Community of Christ…the Church) are a force with which to be reckoned. We have created countless programs and institutions to care fo the poor, sick, broken-hearted, and lost in our world. The Church has discipled people like Martin Luther King, Lottie Moon, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, my grandmother, and so many more countless saints. Obviously, when we are at our worst we can get pretty mean, violent, greedy, and evil, but oftentimes our fallenness overcomes the God-imaged-ness with which we were endowed as human beings…and you know what they say about the biggest problem in church…it’s full of humans! But, I digress.
I love my religion, and I am proud to admit it. This doesn’t mean I need to bash, hate, or ignore other people’s religions to feel better about my own. Obviously, there are wonderful, beautiful things to be learned from each other. The Hindus teach us an appreciation and value for all created things that we often forget when we become so “Heaven-bound” that we forget our responsibilities and incarnational presence here on earth to care for God’s good creation. From Muslims we learn discipline and the sacred importance of remembrance and gratitude. My favorite lesson I learned in my world religions class was the reason why the faithful Muslim prays five times a day–to be reminded that all good gifts come from God. Muhammad taught that not pride or love of money, but forgetfulness is the root of all human evil, because when we forget who the Giver of all things is we begin to hoard, abuse, or exploit. But again, I digress.
What I love about the faith that we call “Christianity,” and being called a “Christian” (which literally means “Little Christ”), is that at the very core of our religious, theological, and communal identity is a symbol that embodies so much that I believe to be true and essential to Christian practice: the Trinity. It is in this word…this symbol…this reality, that we hear the confession from John’s first epistle: “God is love.” Love, by it’s very nature, requires a subject. Love needs expression. Love is a verb, so to speak. Eternally, God has existed in a trifolded community of love, intimacy, compassion, and honesty. The Community we share as humans is a shimmer of the divine Light that is the loving friendship of the Holy Trinity. But this love is not just some sugar-sweet, sentimental gobbledy-gook found embroidered on purses and tacky jewelry. At the heart of what we call “Orthodoxy” or the sacred traditions and teaching of our faith, is the confession that the God of the Universe, the One Source and Giver of all Good Gifts, the ineffable, majestic, mysterious God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and all his ladies, is the very same God who “became” in our world as the poor son of a day laborer and a pregnant-out-of-wedlock teenager. Not only is the Transcendant Numinous Deity our God, but that God was please for all of God’s fullness to dwell in the one we call Jesus the Christ, Our Lord.
At the heart of our faith is not a doctrine or dogma, but a friendship…a relationship…a fellowship. Trinity is what we are to emulate here on earth…in our friendships…in our relationships…in our worship, fellowship, and community. We are called God we God’s people and to be God’s people means to love God with every single drop of heart, mind, spirit, soul, and strength you have, and to love your neighbor just as we love ourselves. You see, this is not just a command with nothing to back it up. Just as we are called to love, God within Godself IS in fact the eternal source of that very same love! So, as we together are the Body of Christ, not as disjointed, disinherited members, but as brothers and sisters united through the Holy Spirit, we become shimmers off the light of the world, reflecting God’s love to all those around us. No meaningless systematic theology. No useless dogma. No burdensome moral rule. Only the Crucifed and Risen Christ, sent from the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit, calling us to love. May the Holy Trinity grant us all the courage and wisdom to be who we must be to share God’s love with the world.