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Living In Limbo
14 July 2013
As I recounted in my article Why I Don't Go To Church, it's now been TEN years since I wrote the following in my journal:
It seems that God is uprooting me from this American / Western religious scene. I have so little interest in it. There has to be more to Christianity than that!! I don't really fit in the Christian ghetto. But I'm not a pagan either (at least, I hope I'm not!). So where DO I fit? Both the religious world and the pagan world are alien to me. What else is left? What else is there? Where is the true Christian world that is neither religious nor pagan? Wow! It just hit me that the current "Christian" culture is BOTH religious AND pagan, at the same time!!After rereading the journal extracts I quoted in that article, I would love to share them all again here, because they clearly reveal where I've been at for the past decade. But to avoid irritating repetition, I'll simply encourage you to follow the above link and read them there.
Philosophically, I feel like this sheep, stuck between two cliffs, unable to be at home on either. As a committed follower of Yeshua (Jesus), my values and goals are usually quite different from those of the pagan world. I'm not pagan enough to really fit in and belong there. On the other hand, because I find so much that's anti-Biblical about the rancid religious system of modern Christianity, my values and goals are generally quite different from those in the Christian world too. I'm not religious enough to really fit in and belong there either.
The cry of my heart ten years ago is just as valid and urgent today: So where DO I fit? Where is the true Christian world that is neither religious nor pagan? Unfortunately, even though a decade has slipped by, I have yet to find the answers to these burning questions.
These issues are not merely philosophical — they have crucial every-day applications and consequences. For example, when, after three years of unemployment I finally found a job earlier this year, I struggled with strong feelings of apathy. The company that hired me makes electronic gadgets for motor homes. The other employees were very excited and passionate about their work and the products they create.
Somehow I just couldn't find even a fraction of their enthusiasm in my heart. All I could do was to scream in my brain, "Who gives a flippin' rip?! Who cares if motor home owners have these gadgets or not?! Is there even one gram of eternal value in making these devices?! Can I devote my life to this kind of work without going into a deep depression over the meaninglessness of it all?!"
On the other hand, I do really like my Apple iPad Mini and my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, as well as numerous other devices. They are very useful tools which bring me a lot of pleasure, so I'm very grateful to the people whose labor results in such gadgets. That counts for something, doesn't it? Wouldn't similar labors on my part be similarly beneficial to others?
But what I started to realize after my bizarre detour into employment was that after 30 years of being deeply involved in many Christian ministries — like the Vineyard, Last Days Ministries, YWAM / UofN, the Healing Rooms, and the ElijahList — I have become forever ruined for the ordinary.
I have a deep desire to spend my time and use my talents on activities and work that have eternal value, and are contributing to building God's Kingdom. So having a career in making widgets is just not going to do it for me. Perhaps such a life is fine for pagans who don't care about eternal things, but for me, I really need something that's much more meaningful.
So even though I have had some bad experiences working for Christian ministries in the past, I came to the conclusion that that was where my heart truly lies. Unfortunately, because of my witness from without, it's not that simple. I've already shared how I was not religious enough to qualify for a Christian health-insurance co-op.
When I start to fill out a job application from a Christian organization, one of the first things they ask you is about your church membership and participation. As I mentioned before, I have not regularly attended an organized church for the past ten years. And as part of the application process, they absolutely want a reference letter from my pastor. But since I don't have a pastor, that letter is a little hard to come by!
Because I am churchless and pastorless (both in the human sense), my application would be practically guaranteed to be rejected. In their eyes, my lack of participation in the conventional religious system disqualifies me from being a true follower of Yeshua. They don't want to take the time and make the effort to really get to know me truly and deeply — they simply judge me from outward appearances and from what I've written on the application. This avenue of service and meaningful employment turns out to be a dead end street for someone like me.
Some counsel me to just go along with, and conform to, the expected religious standard. Then more doors of opportunity would be opened to me, they argue. As I wrote in my journal ten years ago:
I'm not toeing the religious line like a "good Christian." Why should I be confined by sterile Christian conformity? Is such conformity really the will of God? I'm supposed to be conformed to the image of Christ, not the image of the man-made church! Am I supposed to play the hypocrite and go to church just to look like a good little Christian in the eyes of others, when my heart is not into it at all? I just don't think I can do that.And as I stated in another article:
Of course, my life would be a LOT easier if I would just play the religious game, act like a good little Christian, stop rocking the boat, and meet the expectations of the man-made institution of Pagan Christianity. But then, I'm not called to a life that is easy, but to a life that is TRUE.Compulsion vs. Freedom, once I had discovered all the religious meetings, obligations and expectations I would have to endure each day, I realized that I could easily become depressed and suicidal in short order if I lived under such a regime!
In addition, my extreme introversion would mix with the extreme extroverion of this college campus like oil and water. That, combined with their ultra-religiousness and my ultra-aversion to such religiosity, would be a recipe for disaster. I just want to go to a Christ-centered photography school, and learn how to use my skills and tools for His purposes. But alas, the world does not function that simply. So even though they could accept — at least on paper — my lack of religious conformity, I still would not be able to accept their burdensome religious rigmarole.
Of course, God could overcome these significant obstacles in an instant. He could open a door of opportunity that would be just perfect for me. He could speak to my heart and tell me where to go and what to do. He could give me enough of a glimpse of His plan and purpose for my life so that I would have some direction for the next step of my career. He could lead me to like-minded followers of Yeshua (Jesus) so I could have that spiritual fellowship that people say I need so much.
But unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your perspective — God does not live up to my expectations. He has His own perspective and His own way of doing things, which are far beyond the ability of my puny brain to comprehend. After three and a half years, I'm still begging God for some direction, some indication of His will for my life, and I'm still waiting for Him to show me. I have no idea what He is doing with me. All I know is that I've given my life to Him, and dedicated myself to following Him to the best of my ability.
So where does all this leave me? Living in limbo, that's where! Not pagan enough for the pagans, and not religious enough for the Christians. Not belonging to either world, sojourning in a strange no man's land. Sincerely wanting God's will for my vocation, but not receiving any indication from Him as to what that entails. Waiting, waiting, waiting in limbo, desperately hoping that one day all of these issues will be resolved. Until then, I'll continue living in limbo....
This article is 21st a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus) which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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