Charlie and I were once on a mission out west and had stopped at one of my favorite places, Wilson Arch just south of Moab, Utah.
A man recognized us from the blog and FB page. We struck up a conversation and he let me know in no uncertain terms that he was an atheist, and wanted to know if I was a Christian.
How do you answer that? First of all, words mean things, and the word Christian means “Christlike” and I know that I fall waaaay short of that mark. I mean, I’m pretty sure that if someone had cut off Jesus off in traffic, He wouldn’t have revved his donkey and flipped them the dove.
And the man in Moab had already unequivocally stated his position; if I said “yes”, that would be the end of the conversation, and I would never get another chance to reach him. But if I said “no”, I would only validate his beliefs, and I would not be telling the truth, and like I said, words mean things.
So how do you answer that correctly?
It came to me that he wouldn’t have even asked the question if he didn’t already really know the answer, so I said,
“what do YOU think?”
In my belief system, it’s not my job to tell him how to think, or even to assume that I’m somehow superior; I’ve heard enough sermons poked down my throat my entire life to want to preach one one at anyone else. And in my experience, I’ve came to believe that if you have to tell someone that you’re a certain thing, you’re probably not.
If you have to tell someone you’re funny? You’re probably not. That you’re a leader? That you’re a good singer? A proficient motorcyclist/seamstress/plumber, etc? Again, you’re probably not. People believe little of what you say, more of what you do, but most of all, how you make them feel.
I was raised up in a very dogmatic version of Christianity, church three, sometimes four times a week for as far back as I can remember. But we parted ways some time ago, and haven’t been back for the last three years. But I still believe in the positive experiences that were planted in me during that time, and that someday our paths may once again intersect when we are at a different location on our respective journeys. Or maybe not; my path may always be a different one; if so, I’m good with that.
This week has been a wild one, to say the least, enough to test anyone’s faith. But it could have turned out so much worse. After I had left the crime scene, I stopped by Community Bakery to pick up a baker’s dozen of maple-iced communion wafers to take to the hospital. I must have had “that” look on my face, as the lady behind the counter asked if she could pray with me.
Do what? Right here? In this line of people? But she did; black lady, white dude, holding hands in a queue of surly shoppers, and it wasn’t a quick prayer at that. It reminded me of a similar occurence back in 2014 at 12,000′, Engineer Pass, Colorado, when a random motorcycle riding preacher suggested that we join hands and pray for my friends in Ukraine. I am not a hand-holding type of guy, but both times, it just felt “right”.
Later that day, Kat and I were heading back to her house to pick up her animals to bring back to the Casa. She knows how things were when she was growing up under the incessant “churching”, and the contrast of how they are now. Out of the blue, she asked me “are you still a Christian?”
My mind immediately flashed back to the man in Moab, and the preacher atop Engineer Pass, and the lady at the bakery, and all I could say was:
“What do YOU think?”
Thus endeth the sermon, and potluck will be served downstairs … if you can stand a little more, the following is something that I posted shortly after finding Charlie Bravo back in 2015.
Here you go…
Every Easter, I am hit with the impulse to draw the comparison between, Charlie emerging from her Crate and Jesus leaving His tomb. And every Easter, I refrain on the grounds that I feel that it borders on the sacrilegious, at least as far as I’m concerned.
But I will say this: much has been said about Zach and I opening the door to Charlie’s crate. But what’s the worse that could have happened if things had not went as desired? We could have went upon our way. But Jesus doesn’t open our crates from the outside, but from the inside; He willingly shared our fate with each of us.
And if you’re not a believer, that is your right; we are all free moral agents and must choose our own paths. But pause and consider this: even if Jesus was simply a historical figure and not the Son of God, at the very least He lived a life to which we should all emulate:
He lived a life in a wicked world to show us that it could be done, and the day before He was betrayed, He washed his betrayer’s feet. Even though He knew what was going to happen on the Cross, He
We be of one blood, ye and I