Thursday, July 5, 2012

Too Extreme, or Not Extreme Enough



I grew up in the church. My dad was my very first pastor. He gave me my first Bible. He baptized me. Most of my childhood was spent living in (or very close) to a seminary and therefore between home and church, I was surrounded by other Christians. In fact, it probably wasn't until I hit high school that I had any close friends who didn't believe in Christ and didn't go to church every Sunday (and most likely on Wednesdays, too).

I don't really remembered the day I definitely asked Christ into my life. Although, I do remember something about a 5,000 piece puzzle. Walking into our bedroom and watching sunlight filter onto the unfinished piece, illuminating it in a way I thought was beautiful. Somewhere in that moment, I knew. There definitely was a God and I wanted Him to make me just as beautiful.

Whether that's a figment of my overactive imagination, or how I really came to "accept Christ," I really don't know. But I do know that over the years, as I've grown older, my faith has transformed. It's become more and more about the relationship I have with God and not the relationship I have with my dad or the Church. Not that neither are important in my walk. But ultimately, it is solely my walk. Simple as that.

Now, since it is my walk, I have to admit that I'm not the perfect Christian. I've gone from dressing up on Sundays for church to simply making sure my jeans don't have holes in them and my t-shirt isn't wrinkled. I'm a pretty sucky prayer warrior (although I do tend to have a pretty good heart-to-heart with God in the shower. And can't help by send up a prayer when I pass accidents or see an Amber Alert on display). I once did, but no longer do not read my Bible every day.

And all of that, along with much more, makes me feel... guilty. Especially when I read articles or books by "perfect" Christians. Now, I can argue that there is no such thing. And I guess, there really is none but Jesus (who I guess, when you think about it, wasn't a Christian). But in comparison to some of these people, I often feel like I'm definitely a "bad" Christian.

For one thing, I don't necessarily dress modestly. Don't get me wrong... I'm not showing off my boobs (not that I have anything to show off), or wearing super short skirts/short that display my butt cheeks. You won't catch me dead in a bikini. But, at the same time, I don't have a problem with spaghetti straps or strapless dresses and shirts. I think they are cute. I like my collarbones... they are probably among my best features. And I don't mind showing of some leg, as long as I know I can bed over comfortably without worrying about flashing the world around me. Yet, after reading an article that completely condemns those clothing styles as "tools that lead your Christian brothers to having impure thoughts," I think, "crap... maybe I should clear out my closet." Too extreme? I don't know.

Is it wrong that I went galavanting around San Antonio wearing a halter-top romper that exposed a good portion of my back? Or that I wear skinny jeans or a form-fitting dress because I know they show off what little curves I have? I don't know.

Or... Rated 'R' movies. I don't have a problem with them. Personally, I am against scary movies. But that's because I don't like being scared. And I know that while it's "fake," in that moment it feels extremely real to me and I don't like the idea of being in fear at all. But if being scared didn't bother me, I'd say, "bring it on." I'm also not really into too many sex scenes... it's just uncomfortable to watch. My friends will tell you I'm an easily embarrassed by such things. I can't even talk about kissing without getting a little bit red-faced (figuratively, not literally). And as a Christian, I will say that I would prefer not having some of those images stuck in my brain. Cuss words make me cringe, and I'd rather do without them, but as long as it isn't basically every other word, I can handle them. But then, I have friends who have completely cut out any movies with the "R" rating out of their viewing spectrum. Their reason: The content of those movies don't glorify God. Too extreme? I don't know.

I mean, would it be wrong for "The Notebook" to be my favorite movie even if it more or less promotes pre-marital sex and adultery? (It is NOT my favorite movie, but I do like it.) Is it wrong for me to love the Harry Potter or Twilight series since they both are tales that "glorify" the occult? (Harry Potter is among my favorite books; I've yet to crack open Twilight.) I don't know.

I remember one year after youth camp, watching one of the girls break all of her non-Christian CDs in half and tossing them in a gas station trash can. No more junk was going to filter through her ears musically. How noble of her, I thought. And there was a time when all I did listen to was Christian radio... and I felt good about myself. But do I feel any less "good" when I'm jamming out to Jessie J or the Blackeyed Peas? I don't know.

What I do know is that what I wear, say, or do, isn't what makes me a Christian. It's my commitment to Christ. To follow Him. To love Him. And hopefully because of my love for Him, His love is reflected in everything I wear, say, or do. So... does me wearing short shorts or reading Harry Potter mean I don't love Him enough?

I'll admit that sometimes I'm jealous of the Christians who seem to abandon "normal" for Christ. Who spend days in prayer before making any decision, who surrender every moment up to Him. But sometimes, they seem so... alien. Because that's what I'm trying to do... surrender every moment to Him... but I am in no way that "radical" or "on fire."

Christians do come in all different shapes, sizes and personalities. And I think that's the beauty of life in general. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't have a standard that we should all attempt to daily strive for and live up to. Is the standard of purity about what you wear (or don't wear), how you date (or don't date), what you eat (or don't eat), what you watch (... you get the picture)? Or is it simply about a purity of heart?  And while I do think it is definitely the latter... what then does having a purity of heart even look like? Would it not be reflected in what you wear, how you eat, what you watch, what you listen to, how you date... in every single aspect of your life?

I guess this is what the Christian journey is about, huh? We know we are called to a higher purpose. We know there is some calling on our lives. We know that His will is the best and we should seek to follow it. But... it is a journey

I just hope I'm not taking a walk that'll make me happy, but one that will make Him happy.

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