Everyone, if still at all for a moment in his or her thoughts, longs for these things: a sense of being, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging. Our secular culture does a poor job of addressing these questions, (In our individualistic culture, particularly the sense of belonging). Our education system is based on acquiring information, not soul-wellness and life-functionality skills.
The soul pain that can come from never answering these questions is the source of much substance abuse. We will either find answers to these questions or we will medicate the pain of their absence. Some forms of medication are culturally, socially, and legally more acceptable than others. Being a workaholic is more acceptable to us than being an alcoholic, and being addicted to religion is more acceptable than being addicted to heroin, but these are all just narcotics for the soul, because we don’t know who we are, why we are here, and where we belong.
Often people turn to “the church” or “religion” looking for these answers, only to be sadly disappointed. Hoping to find meaningful answers to the deepest questions of the human soul, honest inquirers are instead met with insipid moralism, institutional inertia, corruption, ambition, the love of money, organizational politics, and petty jealousies. In many cases, Christianity, as it is commonly known and expressed, is the poster-child for irrelevance to anything that matters to the human soul. This should not be so, and it is to our great shame that those who profess Christ are often so inept at sharing what really matters. For this, we ask forgiveness.
It can be difficult to understand that it is often necessary to separate what Jesus Christ offers from what the “church” offers. They are not the same. In Him, you will discover that you are loved, and your identity in Him is: “beloved son/daughter/child.” In Him, you will discover that you are graced from heaven with unique talents and abilities that only you can provide to a world that needs them and is waiting for them. In Him, you will discover that there is a family, a real family, not an organization, of other fellow pilgrims where you belong in loving relationship.
A friend of mine once counseled me with advice that changed my life. Knowing my own inclination to try to work hard to make life better for myself (and others) he told me: “Steve, the world is not waiting for you to be more perfect. The world is waiting for you to be fully alive.”
What does it mean to be fully alive? To know who I am, to know what I have to give, and to know where to give it. Jesus is alive from the dead, so I can be fully alive. You can be too.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.