Alex is a third year English student at Trinity Hall.
Fact: I hate Christian blogs.
Sorry if you are a Christian and write a blog – I don’t hate all of them. Just the other day I read a helpful blog on depression, which was by a Christian. But so often Christians are so tribal, writing things not even for the good of other Christians, but for their approval, leaving anyone who isn’t a Christian totally isolated even as we pretend to reach out to them. My facebook history is all just me posting about Christian things, in a Christian-witty way; and I look through my likes, and guess what? Christian, Christian, Christian.
So why am I writing this?
- I am writing more for me than for you.
I hope that it will help sort out my head. Right now I am going through a significant period of doubt and difficulty in my faith. I am tired of it. It feels unreal and the more I consider the cross, the resurrection, the new creation, the less real they feel. I am tired of having to defend the Bible on sexuality, or marriage, or floods. I am tired of believing, let alone proclaiming, that my lovely, generous, but not perfect friends could be punished by God forever. I am tired of trying to justify hundreds of teenagers drowning in Korea or the brain tumour squeezing my Grandma’s brain like a nut-cracker as somehow part of a benevolent God’s plan. I am tired of fighting, tired of cycles of resistance, failure and repentance – whenever I look in the mirror I see the monkeys of porn, anger and unkindness on my back. People tell me I am free, but every day is a grind.
Altogether, I am frustrated and angry with God, and I understand why, when I try to tell people who aren’t Christians about my God, they feel the same way.
Here is the word of God to me:
There was a point in Jesus’ ministry when the majority of his followers did what I want to do and left: his teaching was just too hard. At this point, Jesus turns to his best friends and says, with what seems like trepidation:
You do not want to leave, too, do you?
Quick as a flash, Peter replies:
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Peter gave up far more than me to follow Jesus: he was hated by his own community and eventually killed for it, and most of the time what he got in return was being told off by Jesus. But where could he go? Jesus was offering him life.
Possibly my favourite Biblical image for what it means to follow or reject God is water. To update the description in the book of Jeremiah, rejecting God is like deciding to fill your glass from the septic tank rather than the sink. Now, porn is clearly a septic tank. But then I look at the other things in my life and, although there are lots of claims to offer refreshing, clean water, none deliver. Living for academic success? Septic tank. Living for that relationship? Septic tank. Money, popularity, job, adulation, following a hero, being the hero, health, youth, looks? It’s all sewage. That’s been my experience. And you can see in my life and in so many peoples’ lives the wake of pain and mess that living for these things leaves behind.
If what Jesus says about himself is true, then I really do think he offers me a life worth living. If what Christians tell me happened, happened, if he died and rose again, then I can know that the offer is genuine, guaranteed. So I guess the question I need to keep asking myself is this: do I think that Jesus said those words and did those things?
And I do. He claimed to be my food and my drink, my lover and my husband, my friend and my king, my lord and my God. And I believe he then did everything he needed to do to demonstrate that he meant what he said.
That being the case, to whom shall I go?