Christianity is the world’s largest religion with more than 2.2 billion followers. While neither Kelly nor I were raised in religious families, we both grew up believing in God, spending time in Christian churches for weddings, holiday celebrations, and funerals, and knowing that the Bible is a pretty important book. It was not until after we were married that we decided to pursue a more structured Christian experience.
Having rented an office for my private practice in a building owned by a Christian church, it was not long before the pastor had us attending his sermons. He was an engaging and talented story teller that knew how to translate the scriptures into modern day advice for leading a good life. Before long we felt connected to some nice people, Kelly got baptized, and our knowledge of the Bible increased a wee bit. When Trevor was born he too was baptized, but taking him became challenging because he tended to cry and not do well in their childcare. About the time we were considering taking a break from the church, the pastor we liked so well was caught stealing money from the church for a gambling addiction. With his departure we too decided to leave.
Years later it’s interesting to reflect back on our early Christian experiences as I become more committed to studying universal truths across many faith traditions. The essence of Christian faith and wisdom is really summarized in one man – Jesus of Nazareth. Thus being a good Christian means living life according to his teachings. What was the essence of Jesus’ teachings? That all of life, ourselves included, is an expression of God (sound familiar?). And to discover this truth, Christianity offers church, sermons, prayers, the Bible, and other contemplative practices.
There is a reason it is the world’s dominate religion – it has a lot to offer about the nature of life and why we are here. At the same time, incredible pain and suffering occurs in the name of religion. It is used to twist the truth, kill, and justify all sorts of crazy things in the world. But like all faiths, at the heart of Christian wisdom is the idea that life is a learning experience. We make mistakes, sin, lie, and even gamble away church offerings. We are humbled. And through our experiences the hope is we awaken to our true nature.