I’ve been feeling sort of a battle inside of me lately. There’s a lot of really amazing things that I want to do, and that I want to be a part of, but now that I’m home, I’m really wanting to address the spiritual side of my life.
I was confronted with the issue of child soldiers in 2009, and I began running, and I never looked back; in that time, we’ve seen amazing progress, but just that – progress. The particular issue that we’re working on is still happening, and although experts say that this particular rebel group could be close to being finished, there is still SO much work that needs to be done before the region is stable.
The rebel group that I’m talking about is the LRA, or the Lord’s Resistance Army. After abducting children between the ages of 8 and 13, they force them to kill family members or neighbors and then they tell the kids that if they try to go home, their communities will not accept them and UN Peacekeepers will most likely kill them. Music, songs, FM radio broadcasts, and leaflets have been turning the tide, telling these kiddos that they can come home, and that they’ll be forgiven. It’s been so successful. BUT, right now, only about one fifth of the LRA’s operating area is covered by the FM network. With about $200,000, we could cover about 90% of the LRA’s operating area with these messages. It’s a no-brainer, right?
And so I began trying to work out how we could raise $200,000 to get this done. Surely college kids, surely wealthy people in the community, celebrities, rock stars, SOMEBODY, would be able to come up with this money. Over the last few months, I’ve been able to raise right around 200 dollars. Yep. Two. Hundred. Dollars. It’s honestly a little embarrassing. It’s honestly A LOT embarrassing.
So what do you do when you’re banging your head against the wall.
I guess you turn to God.
Specifically, I turned to the church.
I began to think, “Hey, they’re all older. They have money. Some of those people could purchase this whole thing without really even batting an eye. We have got to find a way to solicit the church!”
And so I began plotting how to tap into this gold mine of Christian do-gooders who have more money than sense, but to no avail. It. Never. Worked.
So, back to paragraph one. I’m realizing that I really don’t know what it means to be a Christian. I don’t like the label, I don’t like the politics, I don’t even like most of the people (it’s mutual.), but for some reason (God) I’m always drawn back to my spiritual beliefs, and to this idea that I need to be a part of a community that is centered around love, love for God and love for people. The problem? I haven’t touched a Bible in I-Don’t-Know-How-Many years. I haven’t said a real prayer in about the same amount of time. I really don’t even know what a real Christian looks like, and I sure don’t want to look like most of the Christians that I know. And it feels so weird to be asking these people that I don’t even like for money when I feel so disconnected from what they believe.
So, I began a journey to see what it’s like to become a for-real Christian. One that doesn’t give a crap if you smoke, drink, cuss, or screw. I guess the better way of saying is that I give a giant crap about these things, but I decide to love anyway. And hopefully people will love me despite my faults and despite my shortcomings.
So, what have I learned so far? Well, I asked the question, what do you do to be a good Christian? It felt like a valid question to me. The answer is mind-blowing. The true answer, mind you, not what they tell you in Sunday School or See You at the Pole, or whatever. The idea is to be righteous. To be sanctified. To become like Jesus, who in case you missed it was perfect*.
To be righteous, you do absolutely NOTHING. Instead, you realize that you’re not righteous, and no matter how righteous you try to be and no matter how many good things you do, you will never, ever, EVER, come one step closer than where you are right now. And in case there was doubt, we are all equally far away from being righteous.
With that said, all you do is believe. You live your life “with” God, not “for” God. There’s a relationship there, and the first step is, you don’t do a damn thing. And that’s crazy-talk for someone like me.
So, now that I know what not to do, the question is, what do you do?
There’s this verse that I just read, and it says that “the righteous will live by faith.” I don’t really know what that means, but I’m on the path to figuring it out.
*I love the idea that Jesus is perfect, because at one point, he busts up into the church with a whip and starts throwing tables and breaking shit because people were “turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves” and being general douchebags. The punk rock kid inside of me is fist-pumping so hard to this story.