If you read here often, you're going to know that I spend a lot of time thinking about what the Bible means now or what Jesus would do or how to make sense of the world as I see it in the light of what I can see of God in the world. But I don't like to call myself a "Christian" because (1) if I'm really being a Christian then you should be able to see it or I'm not really a Christian and (2) I have a really hard time liking a whole lot of Christians.
And it's this last one that really bothers me. I just came from church. It is a good church, a Bible-based, God-fearing church. There are a lot of truly "kind" and "good" people in that church and in other churches--and believe me, I've been to other churches. But here's the thing: most of them are not any better than other people anywhere else. I see a lot of American culture and a little God, but I don't see a lot of GOD. And I believe in GOD.
And what do I mean by GOD? I mean the knowledge of GOD so holy your hair goes white at the whisper of His real name. I am talking about GOD Who knows both the great and the intimate in such detail that it literally leaves me winded to think about. I believe in GOD Whose exquisite LOVE lets absolutely nothing stand in the way of what He hopes to accomplish.
Let me tell you: I have seen GOD in this world. I have seen GOD's goodness in the land of the living. I have seen miracles. Should I tell you of adoption? Should I tell you about how my brother fit exactly into my family, how he was precisely the answer to my parents' and sister's prayers? Should I tell you about my friend's first child? How she died after a short month of life after they had tried so very hard to have children? Or should I tell you about how my friend eventually chose to adopt another child--one who turned out to have been born on the same day? Or of my other acquaintance who tried so hard to adopt and was amazingly given not one but two children within a few months?
I have seen GOD's salvation and His provision. There was one time I thought we were going to have to wait to buy school clothes for the kids because I thought there just wouldn't be enough. Within forty-eight hours, I had received so many clothes for the boys that I literally gave away clothes to six other boys. I have driven through floods and watched the water rise around me only to be escorted through to safety. I have been in surprising, sudden and immediate physical danger twice and through the hand of GOD have been delivered without the slightest harm.
I have seen GOD answer prayers big and small. In fact, I have seen Him link people through prayer half the world away--repeatedly! I have a friend who constantly knows when things are going to happen. Without fail, she calls me to tell me she's praying just days before big impossible-looking things have happened in my life. I spent one spring praying for these twin girls--over and over. I thought I was a little crazy. I wasn't crazy. Half the world away these little girls were born--the prematurely born twins of an acquaintance of mine from high school. I just didn't know it through the "normal" channels yet. I have offered to pray, been turned down, prayed anyway and had GOD tell me what was going on. Not me. Not my imagination. GOD.
And it's this last that really hits me, because I want to share a secret with you:
I see a whole lot of GOD in people who aren't necessarily Christian.
When we were having some issues at home, my Buddhist mother-in-law called because she just knew something was wrong. When my sister-in-law was sick and my mother-in-law's knee was hurting, I had a dream of angels ministering to my mother-in-law and knew to pray for them. Immediately before I conceived both of my children, I was blessed in passing by a very loving Jewish family who believed in the blessing of children (and I have no doubt that my children are a result of those blessings). I have a dear, dear friend whom I think might best be considered Buddhist at the moment but who always is there at just the right moment.
And, yes, I do believe that Jesus is the only way, but I also believe that if you are seeking Him, you will find HIM--regardless of what you call HIM!
And I ask Christians: exactly what denomination was Melchizadek who blessed Abraham? How do we account for Jethro, priest of Midian (not Jewish by the way), who gave Moses his daughter, offered sacrifices to GOD, and advised Moses wisely? What do we do about Balaam, who, although called to curse the Israelites, eventually blessed the Children of Israel? He wasn't Jewish, but he clearly heard GOD. What about the three kings? How is it that they, who were not Jewish, knew about Jesus and sought him but not the Jews in Jerusalem?
The question isn't about who should be allowed in the church--gay or straight, divorced or married, formerly Buddhist or born-and-raised whatever.
The question, according to the apostles, is abundantly clear. Where are the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit?
Not who should be in church, but in whom is GOD dwelling?
Let us seek GOD and His kingdom first. Let us find those who show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are the fruit of the Spirit. Let us seek apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, administrations, and tongues (I Corinthians 12:28). These are the gifts of the Spirit. Let us expect that if we believe we will cast out demons in GOD's name, we will speak with new tongues, we will pick up serpents, and if we drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt us; we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18). These are the signs that accompany those who believe.
The thing is we believe or we don't. And if we believe, we should see GOD.