Seize The Day
Not sure if the story is true, but it certainly gets one thinking!
How has this been for you, Nate? Are there places where you’ve been a visible Christian when it was uncomfortable, or where you wish you had?
I realize the question works a bit differently for me, because I live and work at a place that’s clearly Christian, and most people who meet me know that about me, though they may or may not have a clear sense of what that means to me (and if they ask I tell them.)
Hey, Joanna! Great questions! There are certainly places where I wish I had, but I’m going to save those for later. I started a blog post a few months ago about one such time and I want to finish that soon. I certainly have been a visible Christian at times when it was uncomfortable, too. A few times (including a big one) were during an ethics class that I took a few years ago. I am certain that I could have done more to be a better witness, but I know that everyone there learned about my beliefs and it was incredibly uncomfortable at times. It was a real test of my faith and I grew stronger because of it. That’s probably the most extreme example, although I recall a few times when I worked in a non-Christian environment and took an opportunity to stand up for my faith, despite the fact that it was uncomfortable. My recent college examples were much less uncomfortable. Since I now work mostly with Christians, I don’t have a lot of recent workplace experiences.
So, since you mentioned it, what does being a Christian mean to you?
Good question! I should have said â€œand if they ask I try to explainâ€; itâ€™s hard to adequately describe something so foundational. But hereâ€™s a stab at what being a Christian means to me:
It means that I have encountered God and know that God is the source and center of everything. My life is finite and fragmentary, but it has meaning because it is part of the eternal Life of God. In that Life I am inalienably connected to everyone else– we are children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. In my understanding God is beyond us and also (as Christ) within us, suffering our brokenness and blindness and also sharing in our joy.
Iâ€™m called to listen to God, and living faithfully according to Godâ€™s guidance. Listening includes taking quiet time for prayer and discernment, reading the Bible and other books that help me on the way, worshiping and discerning with other people who are also seeking faithfulness, and refusing to turn away from truths that make me uncomfortable.
Details of faithful living change as new situations arise, but the fundamentals are constant. I need to stop acting as though my separate self was important & trying to create security for this self by accumulating money, approval or anything else. I need to listen well to my neighbors (everyone I meet) and, when I can, help them. I need to look carefully at the ways in which my daily life (both my speech and habits and the things I purchase and consume) affects my neighbors, and try to do no harm if I cannot help. (This requires many things; especially honesty, nonviolence, kindness, self-restraint, and not taking more than my share of limited resources.) And I need to pay attention to the grace and goodness that surround us and give thanks rather than whining and worrying about what I donâ€™t have.
I think this part of the call is probably universal. I am clear about the particular work to which I am called, but I think this is different for each person.
This is counter-cultural in a consumer society that seems to be based on instant gratification, fear of the unknown and the attempt to get material security. Iâ€™m in a community that tries to live simply,give and receive freely and welcome strangers. That helps me somewhat, but I still catch myself trying to impress people, hiding in daydreams and distractions when real life worries me, and otherwise acting counter to what I know to be true. But whether I succeed or fail I know that I and all my neighbors are constantly upheld, cleansed, renewed by God.
All of this is probably a description of being a person of faith, and not specific to being Christian. But I was raised in the Christian tradition, and that is how I came to know God, so my life is shaped by the Bible and by Christian communities and traditions.
I suppose it is presumptuous to say I am a Christian, since I often don’t live according to what I know to be true (besides the fact that I donâ€™t have a full understanding of the truth). Probably it would be more accurate to say that I am trying to be a Christian.
Sorry that was long. Concision is not my strong point. So, what does being a Christian mean to you?
Thanks for your detailed reply, Joanna! Being a Christian means to me that I believe that Jesus is God’s son, who was sent to Earth to pay the price for the sins of all who will believe in Him. I believe that Christ arose from the dead, conquering death for His people, and that He lives to this day, awaiting the time at which He will perform the final judgment and complete the work that He began at the cross. It means that I have been given a gift – the gift of forgiveness. It *is* a gift, meaning that there is nothing that I can do to earn it, or to cause it to be taken away.
By the way, thanks for the cool word: concision! That’s one not often heard!
I guess the more concise answer is ‘It means that I am trying to love God with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself; to follow the example and teachings of Jesus.” Of course, people interpret these in very different ways…
This video is a lie! Please let others know this before some zealot shoots up the USC campus! This philosophy teacher does not exist, this situation never happened… I hate to see people so inspired by a lie…
According to Snopes (see their page on the story), this story is not entirely factual, but it may be based to some level on something that did actually occur. No one knows for sure. You are right that no philosophy teacher at USC can be verified as being the professor in the story. Since the story is similar to much older stories, it most likely is nothing more than an urban legend that has warped over the years. Who cares? I said I didn’t know if it was true (I hadn’t seen the Snopes article at the time). My point is that it gets one thinking. We need to stand up. Thank you for standing up for what you believe. However, suggesting that such a story will incite someone to “shoot up the USC campus” is irresponsible.
this is not a lie
no one said that this is a true story, it just says that this will keep us all thinking. it just shows that you are immature if you have to protests like this.
Thanks, Tristan. I agree and appreciate your response.