A reflection by Lindsey
Christian formation is an interesting thing. I see “becoming a Christian” as a continual process where each day, I have a new opportunity to become just a little more Christ-like. Like every person, I have a long way to go if I will fully image Christ in the world around me. I do my best to stretch myself just a little bit farther.
In order to give myself space to grow, I remind myself that I am a child. I am grateful to have been influenced by Christian traditions that encourage me to call God my “Father” in order to be able to call the Church my “Mother.” It’s meant a lot to me that I can grow in Christ under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit and the wisdom of Christian traditions. In the rest of this post, I’d like to share a bit more about what being a child of the Church means to me.
First and foremost, being a child of the Church gives me a sense of permanence in the relationship. Just as I will always be the child of my earthly parents, I will also always be a child of God and the Church. You cannot fail at being a child. Yes, there might be seasons of estrangement, but the underlying foundation of relationship is always there. No matter where I find myself, I am a child of the Church, and I can trust that the Church wants to help me to find a way to grow no matter what.
Secondly, being a child of the Church is an invitation to grow up according to my abilities, talents, and gifts. I do not fault anyone for an instant who does not have time, ability, or resources to grow in Christ. There’s no essential maturity line that one must cross to get into heaven; even if there was such a thing, it’s not my job to draw it. That said, I’m grateful for every opportunity I have had to learn more about Christian traditions. I’ve loved reading biographies of significant people, learning how different services are structured, uncovering key moments in Christian history, etc. I’m naturally historically inquisitive. My own curiosities have compelled me to explore the Christian faith to begin with and ask a lot of questions about how various things have changed over the timespan of Christianity. I wanted to understand why people thought the Reformation was needed. This starting question inspired me to learn more about controversy in the Church more broadly and led me to my current Christian tradition. I’ve asked questions like, “Why are certain books in the Bible?” and “What does the ‘Creed’ mean anyway?” Being a child of the Church means there’s no stupid question about the ‘family’ tree.
Lastly, being a child of the Church means I can ask the Church tricky questions about my own life. I am so grateful that asking a lot of these questions has caused me to hear an answer of “We’re praying for you” from the Church. There’s not one “right” answer for questions like “Where should I go to college?” and “Help! I really need a job! How will I get one?” I’ve also been really grateful to receive guidance from the Church as a parent when I’ve had a gut level idea that something’s the right thing do to but it’s been hard to put it into action. I remember trying to get started loving people living in poverty. I wanted to do something that would put me into authentic contact with people, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. I got started by driving for Meals on Wheels in the lowest income neighborhoods of the city I was living in at that time and took it on as a kind of spiritual obedience. Even though this example might seem glaringly obvious as an option to some of our readers, it reminds me of being a child of the Church. A couple of hours a week is a small offering and certainly many non-religious people take on this form of community service, but God and the Church inspired me to do something I could do at that specific moment in my life to help me grow up just a little bit more.
I know plenty of LGBT people who feel estranged from the Church: I can point to many places in my own past where I have felt estranged. I’m deeply saddened when various churches disavow their LGBT children. In my estimation, the Church needs to do a better job at offering unconditional parental love to LGBT people. I’m grateful that I have experienced enough of that love in my current Christian tradition where I can feel safe and secure in asking questions, both about my Christian tradition itself and the places I feel a particular need for spiritual direction. I do hope to grow towards Christian maturity while always remembering I am, first and foremost, a child.
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