I was able to teach tonight at the Alpha class at VCC. This was my fourth different "venue" to teach at The Vineyard since arriving. I ended up spending a lot of my time with them telling my personal story of my years of secret skeptism and doubt that dominated my late teens and early to mid twenties. (I was in Bible College and planting churches at the time.) It is part of my story that is easy to tell to seekers, skeptics and agnostics, but hard to confess in a primarily Christian environment. Anyone who has sat under my teaching for a while knows that it eventually emerges, but it is always intimidating to admit a propensity to doubt wihtin a particularly theistic community. It is even more intimidating when you have been hired by them as a teaching pastor.
I wish I would have had more time tonight to unpack my daily "leap of faith" and how I have come to see faith as a daily decision to align my entire being with the story of Jesus. My natural propensity is toward agnosticism, perhaps even materialism (as classically defined, not the current popular meaning of the word.) I re-read Mere Christianity (CS Lewis) this week for the first time in a decade and it resonated more with this current manifestation of Joe circa 2007. Lewis was smarter on a dull day than I will ever be on my best, but our brains seem to be wired similarly.
I left the class tonight knowing that I hadn't played it safe. It was raw and honest, which should be helpful to those similar to me ...and a bit frightening to those who do not wrestle much with God.
I am forever a Jacob, afterall - the self-deceiver ("Jacob" means deceiver) who wrestles with God and receives a new name. (His new name, Israel, means "struggles with God but prevails.") This too, I hope, is my story. You can spot us spiritual wrestlers by our limp...and by the way we no longer try to hide it.