As humans, we have a tendency to label things. “She is X – therefore, she does Y”. Maybe it’s a way of understanding a very confusing world. I’ve recently realised though, that when it comes to church, and faith, none of the labels are sticking anymore.
I came to faith in an evangelical context. The importance of the Bible (including the 7 day creation), Penal Substitution, and sharing the good news. Later on, I went to a conservative evangelical church, and complementarianism was added to the mix – the idea that men and women are created equal, but for different roles.
There’s a lot of good in that – I hope, for example, never to lose a passion for telling others about Christ. But I’m not an evangelical. I believe the Bible is far too important to be taken literally, and I’m only about 75% sure on penal substitution. As for complimentarianism – well, I can see the arguments, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I’m not a Charismatic. Whilst I believe in the gifts of the spirit (tongues, etc), and have had a very profound experience of one of them, I’m not convinced that they’re in evidence in the same way as they were when Paul was writing. On a more frivolous note, singing for hours on end doesn’t help me worship God, it just makes me reach for the throat sweets.
I’m at an Anglo Catholic church at the moment, which I love. The liturgy and the ritual are like a theatre on which the whole Christian story plays out. I’m a very visual person, so that really helps me. On the other hand, I’m not a great fan of the Anglican Aerobics – Up, Down, Kneel, Up, down, Sing, Cross yourself…I don’t have enough hands. And sometimes the service is so well constructed that I find it hard to find the space to – well, to just be- with God.
This shouldn’t matter. It should be about worshipping and faith, and the labels shouldn’t matter. But for me, it’s causing a bit of a crisis of identity. I’m not entirely sure where I fit in the church, and that makes me feel very unsettled.
I guess Jesus didn’t really fit though. A radical voice in Roman Occupied Galilee – he must have felt like He didn’t fit in. He wasn’t a scribe or a Pharisee, and he challenged all of societies norms. But he also chose to let himself be defined by the most important thing of all. His Heavenly Father.
In some ways, I wish I could find a label that would stick. I wish I could fit in better to the church. But I wonder sometimes whether discontent and isolation can be a gift. Because it helps me leave my comfort blanket behind and press on – secure in the only thing I can ever be secure in.