I have some great readers who sometimes disagree with me, but will only rarely become disagreeable. However, once in a great while I get a letter reeking of discontent.
Last week, a Mansfield, Ohio, reader accused me of being a political writer because I urged readers to vote for candidates who display competence and integrity. The woman argued issues I’ve never raised by ranting against pro-lifers and Democrats. She even spouted an anti-gay view that included an anatomical explanation. Wowzer!
She closed with a polite request: “Please quit your day job and go work for the Democrat party, but don’t be surprised when you finally stand before judgment and you end up in hell.”
I’m always amazed when someone seeks to discount my faith, my journey, my God by lobbing a few unfounded accusations. I mean, the Bible itself is written by various characters. Like them, I write from my point of view, but still only manage to reveal slivers of God’s qualities.
The crazy thing is that since we’ve learned to condense our religious books into pocket-size versions, some people, like this woman, have the mistaken impression that God can also be condensed into our pockets. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think God lives in anyone’s pocket.
Matter of fact, I think God prefers more open-air spaces, like a home with a recliner where he can stretch out.
I think faith is about inviting God into our house, into your house and mine. It’s about giving God the room to become who God needs to be in the different places in which he lives.
Why do folks sometimes expect God to act the same way in every “house?” I mean, I don’t act the same way at my friends’ apartments as I do at my aunt’s ranch. When I go to a friend’s place, we sit on the couch and drink soda.
When I go to my favorite aunt’s farmhouse outside of Waco, we talk about books and children and cattle. Mostly we talk about the heat and the previous night’s rain. We go to bed right after the weather report and get up in the morning and eat Czechoslovakian Kolaches.
The point is there’s a different Norris who visits his aunt’s house than the Norris who burps carbonated soda at his friend’s flat. Nevertheless, both my friend and my aunt urge me to make myself at home. That means they like who I am and they enjoy seeing more of that person. The feeling is mutual.
God enjoys seeing each of us the way we are. I think that’s one of the reasons God doesn’t get bored.
All that said, I know it can be a nice feeling to walk into church and find a bunch of folks who believe mostly how you believe. I do it every Sunday. I walk in and know that many of the people believe as I do and we take Communion to celebrate our common belief.
But at the end of the day, you and I both have to re-enter a world where God has chosen many domains in which to live, and the celebrations of life we make together must outweigh our many differences.
As for my email critics, I must accept that some of them exercise in various ways. I exercise by running, while some of them get their exercise by jumping to conclusions.
Norris Burkes will be in Lakeland Jan. 12-20 and is available for public speeches, church retreats, marriage seminars, worship services, university or private high school chapels, in-service for healthcare and hospice, and veterans events. If you would like to host Norris at your event, please email him for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.