Quite often when someone tells me something about their church or their faith I can pretty quickly and usually safely assume a few things about them. It’s true that some of them are stereotypes and prejudices I’m willing to admit. [Always try to make sure that our preconceived notions about the world and others don’t keep us from enjoying life as it comes our way. Ideas and especially people.] Recently though it’s reminded me of a blog post by Donald Miller. He asked does your personality influence your theology. In my own words it made me wonder…
Are people drawn to a religion based on the shape of their soul or do we fall into a religion and then they shape our soul? I realize this can’t really be answered with certainty, but I wondered what others thought. I discussed it with a few friends and they all seem as confused and provoked as I.
In some ways I believe our religion shapes us. Where we are born often will decide what faith we take on. Whether born in America or Japan, small town or urban city can greatly influence how we will believe and what our opinions will look like. Being brought up in a religion and culture will make many of us who we are.
In some ways I believe our soul shapes our religion. Looking back at my history I can see that even though my upbringing taught me a particular way with specific beliefs, my soul wasn’t comfortable until I found a way to believe that resonated within me.
I’ve found this question really interesting lately. These are the things that run through my head. Feel free to join the late night thinking.
While I was recently in New Orleans with for the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering, I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors Donald Miller. His book Blue Like Jazz made the New York Times best seller list. He was going to be a keynote speaker on Saturday night and it was something that I was definitely looking forward to during our adventures at the gathering. The students were aware of this and so we even showed up a little early to the Superdome hoping to get floor seats and be a little closer to the action. There was one story that he shared that I’ve thought about several times since. He said that as he was traveling he overheard two ladies talking about the disaster of Katrina in New Orleans. They spoke about how they were disappointed in the events that happened after the disaster with the lack of “urgency” that they saw from the government. It was the next comment he heard from them that struck him most. “Do you know who’s really helping out down there? It’s those Christians.” He then discussed how he hoped that this would be something that would be heard more often, that “those Christians” are really helping out and making a difference in the world.
During the youth gathering, it was estimated that all the service work we would do over our short time together, would be more than could be accomplished in 3 years with the current amount of service work that is being put in. I hope that in my community, the actions of the people of faith can really begin to promote the stereotype that “those Christians” really want to make a difference and help our neighbors. May God’s grace, peace, mercy and love be seen in us today.