Let’s start from the beginning. This is what I discovered the 1st couple of weeks into the Jesus- Challenge, not only from reading a $#^%-ton of books, but in meeting people face to face and hearing their stories.
Attempting to put aside my pedantic tendencies, I initially had the good intention of wanting to talk to anyone gracious enough to share their God experiences with me. But soon I realized, due to my highly practiced character flaws and skillful defensive wall building abilities, I was not quite in the right head space for such acceptance (not just yet). Namely, if a person hadn’t read the books I had read or couldn’t answer the questions I needed answering, I felt myself facing that Jesus blocking wall, the one that ineffectually protected me from wanting anything to do with Jesus. I would like to say this is a natural tendency for many seculars. I didn’t want to be inoculated in this way, stopping short of the finish line. To give myself some credit though, it is a treacherous process of questioning, and questioning, and questioning some more, with the end result of possibly altering my entire worldview, one that has always been extremely measured and thought-through, that made sense of the world to me, made me at peace with it and with me in it. So, essentially, I was being a crazy person by throwing the foundations of an already solid foundation into wack, just because I was challenged to do so. But as much crazy s it calls for, some of us carry an instinct for a the most meaningful path, above all else, and above the security of footing. But I digress.
I just had to do it my way for now, which meant I was careful in avoiding people likely to answer me with blind faith or fundamentalist-like comments such as “yes you will go to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus,” no matter how inclusive they think they are. This includes some of my best friends. But it’s not their fault. It is mine alone. And they are entitled to believe what they want, as am I. So I had no choice other than going the theologians, pastors, professors and extremely open minded Christian route; they would speak to me in a manner that jived well with me and all my flaws. Eventually I will be able to talk to all Christians about their personal opinions on God and not feel something icky arise inside of me just because I do not agree (baby steps). It is funny though, that I can hear differing opinions on all other topics of life, but at this nascent stage, I can not, for the life of me, do that with the heady topic of God (baby steps I said).
But, I realized something very profound from speaking to this very specific group of people who live and breathe God and the Gospel, not just because it is their will, but because it is their job to evaluate the topic of God. And the answer is sometimes “we just don’t know.” A great Pastor of Lutheran denomination in Sunnyvale put it most poignantly after I asked, “what happens to all the good people who just have never heard of Jesus or just categorize Jesus in another way?” He said something to the effect of “we just don’t know, nor do we need to know. We just need to know God is good, God and his grace will take care of them, and that’s all we need to know.” And that was one of my biggest Jesus-blocking-wall obstacles. Crushed. Now this I can work with, a God like this.
I would like to say, I am now in a place where I can hear all spectrums and see that there are a panoply of Christians, and that I can hear, appreciate, love the fellow human being next to me, who has his own truth, that may not be mine, but that I can still love him regardless.
I would like to thank the dozens upon dozens of people who were kind enough to meet with an over-eager maniac over the course of a few short weeks to talk about their journey with God. I prayed for all of you and God brought all of you to me. I am blessed and honored to be able to hear such miraculous, tear jerking, life affirming, and funny stories that only God could create.