I was recently asked to join TheRebelution Staff as a regular contributor! You might be familiar with the site, as I’ve been published with them several times before. I’m so honored to join this team, and to be a part of their work in equipping and encouraging young people to go out, chase after Jesus, change the world, and do hard things. So you can head on over to TheRebelution every third Monday to see a post by yours truly, and follow TheReb for daily encouragement (and sometimes conviction) to love and live and work with excellence. Here’s my first post as an regular contributor!
I paused as I read the post. It asked, “How do you describe a Christian? I’m asking because I think I have a different definition than many of you.” I clicked to see the comments, morbidly convinced I was about to witness a full-out brawl between different denominations, or the putting forth and praising of strange cult-like beliefs.
But there wasn’t.
Each person described what it means to be a Christian a little bit differently, yes. And the original questioner had a unique answer as well. But rather than the soft heresy or warring factions I had so morbidly expected, I found I generally agreed with them all. True, there was the occasional ambiguity of the precise intent of phrases like “Love everyone” because these phrases have often been co-opted by wrong ideas. But with a charitable reading, I found myself nodding to almost all of the answers. And yet none of the answers were the same. They were all different.
Does that mean I’m a naïve Christian? I hope not. Does that mean I don’t know how Christianity or doctrine works? I don’t think so. Does that mean that all of these people were confused about being a Christian? No.
Perhaps it means that we can’t truly have a small, concise definition for something so big.
Perhaps you’ve run into this problem before. Someone will ask you a question, and you’re unable to answer, not because you don’t have answers, but because you have such an abundance of them. There’s a paralysis that comes from expertise, not inexperience. “What is your favorite book? How was your week? What do you enjoy about your spouse? How do you fly a plane? How can we know Jesus rose from the dead?” Where do you even begin?
And because of the very fact that we know so much, we flounder.
“Well, what genre of books, because the novels I’m reading right now are these, but then I’m also enjoying this non-fiction…”
“So much happened this week, I mean, I went roller skating and studied for finals and changed diapers and laughed loudly and cried quietly and sang around the house and…”
“Well, it depends on the day, their laugh, their smile, how we talk, and then I can’t forget…”
“A plane? Well, you have to consider lift and thrust, and know what direction the wind is going, and then check all your instruments and…”
“We have the eyewitness accounts which… oh, and the historical accuracy of those accounts compared to the accounts of Caesar’s wars… and the historical records too… and then there’s…“
There’s a paralysis that comes from too much data, not too little. But that doesn’t mean there’s not an answer to the question. And that doesn’t mean we don’t know the answer. It just means that often reality is so big it can’t be condensed into a single definition…