Written by Hannah Schneider.
In a time...
where topics that are tough to swallow are everywhere, religion is often a sore subject. It is often considered impolite to inquire about other people’s religious beliefs, and it’s especially bold to share yours without being asked to. And yet, religion is still everywhere. As the times continue to change at an increasingly rapid pace in the United States, people are beginning to talk more and more about it. What role does it play in our socioeconomic systems? Our politics? Our schools? Where is the line between separation of church and state, and the freedom of religion? And what is our response in the middle of all this tension?
Our natural response as Christians might be to become defensive and cynical, isolating ourselves from the secular population. Perhaps the repsonse of some is to become silent, and keep personal matters, such as faith, private. Or, if you’re anything like me, maybe your response is to gain clarity through more knowledge. It can feel good to stuff your head with information, to dig for compelling arguments, to assess the situation at hand not as a devoted believer, but as a cunning analyst. And when the moment arises and you get into a conversation with an unbeliever, to bring forth your facts and hard winning arguments, to convince the other you are not just some brainwashed Christian who thought they could ride into heaven on the back of their parents’ cloud chariot, but rather, an intelligent, thoughtful, human being who is worthy of a listening ear. And do you know what happens in those moments? Somewhere in the middle of your tornado of reason and strategy, God gets lost. We can, and we will, lose Him in the midst of our intellectual pursuits if we’re not careful.
That’s why I’m calling God, in this instance, The Elephant In the Sky. We all know that phrase, the elephant in the room, and it’s like that but with a twist. If we’re not constantly checking in with His Spirit and pursuing intimacy with God, we can easily forget why it is we fell in love with Jesus in the first place. We can forget Him entirely. Oh so easily, He can become that big elephant that we talk around, but refuse to directly acknowledge, allowing Him to become more and more distant as He floats into the abyss, forever lost among the stars.
Mathew 15:8 - These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
We are living in turbulent times. There’s a lot to think about, and questions we need to seriously ask ourselves. But why did we become Christians in the first place? Was it because God wrote us a persuasive essay on why He is the way, the truth, and the life from His lofty throne on high? Or, is it because He came to us. He walked among us, suffered with us, died for us. He was merciful when we deserved judgement. He extended grace when we deserved none of it, and He is a person. The Godhead, three in one, has thoughts, emotions, and plans. He seeks relationship with us.
He is not just a historical topic. He is not some sociological institution. He is not up for debate. He is a person, whether we approach Him as one or not. We can talk about religion and our faith, and dance around Him all we want, He is still always right there...listening, observing, moving, and speaking.
Let me ask you this, if someone wanted you to describe your dearest friend, or father, or your spouse, what would be your approach? Would you go off on a fifteen minute rant as to why they’re good for America, how the benefits of their presence in your life outweigh the costs, or why it makes logical sense to love them and stand by them? You could, but it would be strange. You would probably approach the subject in a more personal way. You might talk about what they’re like, what kind of things you like to do together, how you met, and what they truly mean to you. So, if Christianity is a relationship, why do we so often cut God out of it altogether? He is not some concept. He is living and breathing and desiring a true connection with you and the others around you.
Don’t lose God in the middle of your scheming and well thought-out arguments. It’s important to understand why we believe what we believe and to seek knowledge, but don’t let it distract you so much that you miss the point altogether. Be brave enough to make yourself vulnerable to other people. When talking about your faith, don’t skip around Him and approach the conversation mechanically. Just be open and honest about who He is and what He’s done for you. We need the guidance of the Spirit and the courage to let our defenses down to really make an impact in somebody’s life. And above all, we need to not treat God as the elephant in the room, or the elephant that’s just sitting up there in the sky, lost among the details. We need to allow Him to hold our hand, to walk us through things, and to let Him be close to our thoughts.
We need to let Him speak.