Life doesn’t always go the way we may expect. Sometimes, neither does the direction of a blog.
When I initially came up with the concept for this blog, it was going to be a meeting place of sorts where thinking people, Christian or otherwise, could come to have reasonable and frank discussions about faith. In the back of my mind was the Bible verse Isaiah 1:18 (‘Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD…’). It was with this thinking that I came up with the blog and its original name, ‘SoR.Shelter’.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV)
The ‘SoR’ in the blog’s original title referred to the last phrase, ‘slaves of righteousness’, but it was more than that. I never shared this publicly, but to me, it also meant ‘seekers of r…’. I could never quite decide what the ‘R’ stood for in this case. Redemption? Righteousness (again)? Either way, if someone was curious about Christianity or was open to reading a different point of view, I wanted that person to feel welcomed. It was to be a place where those with Christian faith and those without could both come and read something that, possibly, spoke to them.
In a previous post, I wrote about a problem I had when I started this blog. The problem was that, for a long time, I didn’t really have anything to say. I wrote two posts, and I think I only published one of them. It was an awkward and poorly written post on New Year’s Eve 2011 that was a wish for a happy 2012. It doesn’t even exist now, and that’s for the better.
The start of the blog, its name, the original idea behind it, and those first awful attempts to write all came before the traveling I’ve done. Once I started traveling, I had a lot more to talk about because I started to see the world in a different way. As such, the direction of the blog shifted away from my original concept, though there are still elements of that vision in ‘Pilgrim Shelter’. (You can read about the name change here.) It was always going to be a place where I could come to be unabashedly myself. That facet has endured. Rather, it has endured for the most part.
I say ‘for the most part’ because I admit that I don’t always talk about how central my faith is to my thinking. It comes out clearly on occasion, but I don’t actively seek to include it in every post. This hesitation to share my faith fully in what I write is further proof that I am true here to who I am in my daily life.
An admission: evangelism is hard for me. I would rather be liked and well-regarded in all circles than to put myself out there as some wild-eyed Jesus freak. That’s not who I am, for better or worse. I’m much more subtle in most aspects of my life. If I did come out and tell people about Jesus upon first meeting, I feel like I would run the risk of turning them off to anything I might have to say. I’d rather get to know someone first before beginning to share my faith. However, I can’t stay silent indefinitely. Jesus didn’t leave room for that.
I believe in the central tenets of Christianity. I believe that God became a man in the form of Jesus Christ. I believe that He lived a perfect life while performing miracles and teaching humanity how we should live. I believe that He died for sinners, such as myself, taking the wrath of God on Himself so that those who believe in Him can be granted eternal life. I believe that He rose from the dead. There’s much more I could say, but those are the basics.
My faith is made up of a combination of what I believe to be true from Scripture and my personal experience. In writing here, I may not always quote or even reference Scripture explicitly. That’s not because I don’t think it’s important or because I don’t rely on it on a day-to-day basis. Rather, I include Scripture here when it’s directly relevant to the subject at hand.
Scripture, I believe, is truth, and truth is universal. However, Scripture is not the only truth there is. Augustine of Hippo wrote in Confessions about truth by using the concept of Egyptian gold. When the Israelites were fleeing from Egypt after the Passover, described in Exodus 12, they took silver and gold from the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36). This treasure ended up becoming the treasure in the Temple in Jerusalem. Augustine’s point, to put it succinctly, is that, just as all treasure is God’s treasure, all truth is God’s truth. This is the case whether a truth is explicitly contained within the Bible or not. Thus, even if something isn’t ‘specifically Christian’, that doesn’t make it ‘anti-Christian’. Truth is truth, regardless of its source.
This is a concept I learned in college, and it’s something that’s stuck with me ever since. It’s why I feel I’m not violating some statute of God by writing about my experience. My experience complements my belief in Scripture, and Scripture complements my experience. They work together. I can’t say this always works perfectly because I am, of course, a fallen human being. I can only interpret Scripture and my experience imperfectly. If a thought directly contradicts something I know to be true of the Bible, this demonstrates the need to alter my thinking.
Yet, apart from any direct contradiction, my Christian liberty permits me to live freely. It’s one of the great things about Christianity. Some people see Christianity as merely a set of rules that prevent Jesus’ followers from having fun. This is incorrect for several reasons. Firstly, it presumes that having fun is the express purpose of existence. It’s a part of it, but only a part. If ‘fun’ was all we lived for, it would lead, I think, to a very shallow existence.
As for Christianity being only a set of restrictive limitations, the opposite is true for those who follow Jesus. Christianity frees Jesus’s followers to live without fear of condemnation. Even if I do or believe something contrary to what God wants, I’m forgiven. It doesn’t preclude me from error, but it frees me from fearing punishment when I commit any erroneous actions (i.e., sins).
Lastly, these rules are not arbitrary restrictions. Rather, they are set in place as guidelines to show us the right way to live. I realize that I may get some pushback in saying that the Bible teaches the ‘right way’ to live. If you question my reasoning that Jesus’ teachings present a better way, I challenge you to read the Bible and consider it for yourself. After doing so, I’d be more than happy to have dialogue about this if you still have questions (see my contact information below).
Even with the alternate direction this blog has taken and the name change to ‘Pilgrim Shelter’, my hope is that the goal of finding common ground when talking about things of faith is still clear. The stories I share, and the subsequent lessons I pull from them, do have some Christian elements to them. Yet I would like to think that individuals could come to this site with different perspectives and find something that applies to them and their lives.
None of what I’ve said is a change of any kind in my thinking. I’ve believed these things for some time, even when I fail (miserably, at times) to live by them. Neither does my mentioning these beliefs here necessarily signal a shift in the direction of this blog. I still plan to write about the lessons of life I’ve learned, whether they are explicitly Christian or not.
This post serves more as a clarification of where I stand. I won’t shoehorn God into everything I write, but I won’t purposely exclude Him, either. Also, when I do include Scripture, I’ll do my best not to contradict it as I understand it. With that said, I can’t promise, given my fallen nature, that certain events in my life recounted here won’t ever run counter to how Scripture says I ought to live (again, forgiveness is pretty great). Instead, I’ll continue to take every opportunity to learn and grow. That’s the best way I can be true, both to myself, and to God.
A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone. I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum. I want to hear other voices, too. What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback! Have I spoken something to you? Is there something you think I should know? Do you have a question about something I said? Please leave a comment or contact me at Pilgrim.Brett@gmail.com
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