Friday, April 29, 2011

Measuring Stick

How do we measure a person's spirituality?

What comprises a legitimate relationship with God?

How do you know if someone is truly religious?

These are such loaded terms and ones I do my best to avoid. Measuring spirituality? That just seems wrong. Weird. Foreign. Impossible. Yet, it happens. We try. We fail. Yet, we keep trying.

Today I had a conversation with a friend. He told me in quite simple and straight-forward terms that if I want to do something with/for Union I need to be an Adventist. Carrying the name of an Adventist institutions has certain requirements. Number one, the person should be Adventist. Number two, the person should adhere to the practices and doctrines of Adventism.

Union is not unique. We do this with most everything and it makes sense. If you're going to ask that feminists support you, you should be a feminist. If you're going to be funded by Democrats, you sure better be a Democrat and advocate for their beliefs.

So the obvious question stands: Am I an Adventist? Am I even a Christian?

Since returning from Cambodia, I've said "no."

I've not said "no" because I am angry with Adventism or I am angry with Jesus. I just don't understand Adventism or Jesus at this point in my life. Taking off the labels was liberating. Freeing. I have so much to learn. I want to research it, learn about it, hold it in my hands, touch it, throw it against a wall, taste it, experience it.

By definition, a Seventh-day Adventist is "a member of a Protestant sect that preaches the imminent return of Christ to Earth (originally expecting the Second Coming in 1844) and observes Saturday as the sabbath."

By definition, a Christian is "a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings."

Do I believe in the imminent return of Christ to earth?
What exactly does "observing" the Sabbath mean?
Do I believe in Jesus Christ?

I'm mostly a cultural Adventist and a cultural Christian. I don't have to try to act or look like an Adventist Christian. I take a Sabbath. I take care of my body. I serve others. I'm intentional with how I treat people. I speak the lingo. I know the vocabulary.

Could someone be a Christian and not even know it?
Could someone be an Adventist and not even know it?

Does it matter?

I'm still weighing out the questions and the even heavier answers. I'm know I am vocalizing what a lot of people feel. I know because they've told me. We all have questions and doubts. None of us knows the end from the beginning.

I don't like feeling that if I just took the darn title so many people would be happier. They could relax and not be so visibly uncomfortable around me when I tell them I'm not really Adventist and they assume it's because I'm lost or falling or at-risk.

Even though nothing about me, my routine, or my beliefs would really change.

Just the title.