Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Letting Go of God's Hand

Trusting God is never an easy assignment. Because the context of life is always changing, the exercise of trust is a constant learning experience. It reminds me of the image of a parent holding onto a child’s hand. As children we can be afraid to let go. But with encouragement and prodding we learn to let go and begin to walk on our own.

This summer I had a wonderful conversation with Christian educators in Quebec. We talked about the challenge of expressing a Christian witness within a post Christendom, highly secularized society. There is little tolerance for any religious system claiming exclusive truth. This has been especially difficult for evangelical expression of Christianity.

Although Quebec society is suspicious of organized religious activity it nonetheless encompasses a secularized spirituality. There is still an individualized desire to be linked to a higher purpose. The challenge for the church in such a context is to become aligned to that yearning without offending the ideal of tolerance.

In the period of Christendom, the church could assert faith in Jesus Christ as the singular path to God, receiving little resistance or challenge from other faith systems. Canada today, however, is context to many other faith perspective and activity. With the rejection of Christian societal control or influence, Quebec is also ahead of the national curve in secularization. This prompted an engaging conversation with the Christian educators in Quebec.

We determined that perhaps a better way for the church to position Christianity in a highly secularized post Christendom society is as a viable option rather than the only way. This is a little frightening for a faith system that has been positioning itself for generations as the singular path to God.

We began to remind ourselves that it is the Spirit of God that communicates to human hearts and draws individuals to faith. Although we are often the vessels used by God, the invitation is ultimately an exercise of God. Yet we often dictate how God must express that invitation and to whom that invitation should be expressed.

I wonder if it is time for the church to let go of God’s hand. But this time the image is from the perspective of the parent rather than the child. Sometimes it is the parent who is reluctant to allow the child to run and experience new things. It is the parent who must learn to trust the child.

Maybe the best thing the church can do in a secularized post Christendom society is to let go of God’s hand and let God run free. This is not to suggest that the church abandon all conviction and dogma. But it is to embrace a renewed level of trust in the irresistible passion of God to redeem and restore.

Christianity can compete. It is a viable option for all those looking for higher purpose and meaning. Through Christ people come face to face with the overwhelming invitation to experience healing and hope.

If we can trust God enough to release our grip of fearful constraint and let God run, we just might find out again how irresistible our faith really is.

(Oct. 07/11) Further clarity:
This is not meant to question the exclusive claim of Jesus (Jn 14:6), but that in our post modern, secularized context (as especially seen in Quebec), we would get a better hearing if we posture ourselves more respectfully in regards to other religions. That is, Christianity has been so discarded by many that we need to get back to positioning Christianity as even a viable option. I am suggesting that Jesus is big enough to take the competition – that we need not fear comparative analysis. In fact it is as we offer Christianity as a viable option without discrediting other religious systems that a secular society will begin to take Christianity seriously again.