As an adult, my biggest learning about Christian faith is that it is a whole way of life. It is no accident that the early Christians were called followers of The Way.
When I was a kid growing up in the church, I received A LOT of biblical teaching. This focused on God, salvation, atonement, incarnation, sanctification and redemption. Some of the teaching was great; some was much less great. As a child, I missed how the story of God enriched and upheld the story of my own life and gave me meaning and purpose. I learned a lot of facts about God, but I didn’t know God. I didn’t learn how to be a disciple.
Discovering a new vision
When I came back to faith as an adult, it started with an encounter. Through the Catholic writer Thomas Merton, I met Jesus again for the first time, and he ‘looked’ so different than the Jesus I knew growing up. His teaching was challenging and compelling. I saw a vision for the kingdom of God that hit me deeply. It was a vision of a community marked by vigorous peace, love, justice and faith bringing good works and faith to those in need.
Meditating on Jesus’ death, I saw a profundity in the love of God I had never seen before, the miracle of transforming connection with God. In his resurrection, I saw a vision of a world renewed in the love of God. In the Eucharist, in the soft taste of bread, and the sweet taste of the wine, I tasted and felt the deep presence of God within me. All of this stayed with me long after I left the church building.
I found that questions were being answered, and new ones were emerging. At the same time, I was becoming more attentive to other people in a way I wasn’t before. Going to church in the inner city, I started to see human need in a way that I had found easy to ignore before. I wanted to talk to people about my faith and ask them questions about things that were hard for me.
As I started to look at the intricacy of nature as an example of God’s handiwork, I saw beauty where I hadn’t before. As I read scripture, I was meeting Jesus again and again. But I was still dealing with my perpetual weight issues. I still procrastinated and lost my temper at stupid things. I forgot to do things I said I would do. All of that became part of my prayer. I grew to love the quiet time in church before people came. I looked forward to singing, something I had never really payed attention to before.
For me, discipleship happened accidentally. I met Jesus, and he has been changing me for the better ever since. And I am so grateful for this path. May I walk it every day of my life (or at least most days.😊)