(You thought I had forgotten, didn't you?)
This is not the post I wanted to write.
The one I wanted to write has been brewing in my head for weeks. I've had two people ask me a very similar (and very thought-provoking) question - "Why are you there?" ("There" being the socially-conservative Evangelical Church) and, "Why would anyone ever read the Bible?" (in response to hateful questions/comments targeted toward her in the name of Scripture.) I was ready to tell you all about it, and to light in to legalism and cultural religiosity that has very little to do with God. The post I wanted to write was going to be good.
But it's not at all what would honor God.
I recently had one of the more profound spiritual conversations of my adult life. I want to tell you about it while still protecting confidences, so please forgive me if I'm a little vague. A long-time friend and mentor recently made a public statement in support of a group usually ostricized by the Church, at great personal risk to her livelihood. A few days later, we had lunch. I had two questions for her: "Why did you speak up now?" and, "Why didn't you speak up sooner?" Her answer changed me.
She said (I'm paraphrasing of course) that following Christ is following in the way of love, compassion, and unity. Equality is not our highest goal; neither is being right nor being recognized. Our highest goal is to love and serve the person in front of us - torturer and tortured alike, regardless of their response to us. She has never spoken up before because she chooses not to pursue arguments and factions, that do not unify the Body of Christ. But she spoke up now because not to do so would mean allowing the Church to act outside of the compassion of Christ. She just could not sit silently and watch that happen.
I would love to talk about false religion and false pride. I would love to talk about all that is wrong with the modern church in America (and specifically here, in the Bible Belt). But that's not my role. False religion that idolizes being right over God's grace is not mine to follow, nor is it mine to change. It's not mine at all. I am not called to be right, or to say where others are wrong. As my friend said, I am called to love and serve the person in front of me. Their response - to me, to God, or to others - is up to them.