I am a Christian. For me, this means a multitude of things. Being a “Christian” is not simply a box that I mindlessly check on forms asking for my demographic information, nor is it something I only acknowledge when certain holidays pop up on the calendar. As it relates to me, my faith is not an aspect of my life, but the context in which my life itself is lived. In the same way that a foundation supports a house, my faith is the platform upon which everything else in my life is built. Everything from my thought-life, actions, decisions and aspirations, is influenced and checked by my relationship with Christianity.
When I finally decided to start this website and embark on a new chapter in my life, I knew faith and spirituality were two topics I simply couldn’t omit. I could not discuss anything related to my life without including religious/spiritual content—not authentically, anyway. But without complete authenticity, the core value of 24KAD, what good would any of this be? For weeks I struggled with this notion because I know how unpopular religious/spiritual content can be in mainstream society. This seems to be especially true among individuals belonging to my particular generation, who are more than likely the greatest percentage of my audience. My reticence came not from a desire to be popular, but a desire to be inclusive.
How could I feature faith-based content without instantly turning off non-believing readers or readers of completely different faiths? Before quite recently, I had never used the Internet to promote myself or my beliefs regarding anything, much less my religious/spiritual views. For the most part, I have always been an extremely private person who has never spoken at great length about such issues with anyone. I mean, simply posting a selfie of myself on Instagram is something I have not yet brought myself to do. I’m that private. But I’m not blind, after all. I see hateful, spiteful, ugly comments posted on the most beautiful people’s photos every single day—I am hardly rushing to get in line for that kind of potential abuse. This being said, I have been wondering if speaking about something that is far less celebrated than selfie posting would place me in the line of fire as well.
Eventually, I came to the place of simply not caring. I obviously didn’t start this site to hide myself, my views, my experiences or my knowledge. I started blogging for a whole host of reasons, but they all boil down to wanting to help other people. Whether I offer a great new recipe to try or I share my past/current life experiences, it is all in the spirit of helping others do, get through or better understand something. I am a huge believer in the power of sharing one’s unique journey through life—the power of one’s testimony should never be underestimated. This is why it is so important for me to address all topics that I am passionate about, not just the ones that make me feel the most comfortable.
It is my ultimate hope that the future pieces I write on faith and spirituality are fluid and unadulterated enough to benefit, edify and inspire anyone who finds themselves here, irrespective of their own personal views. While my intentions will never be to convert anyone, I hope that my insights are well received by the people who are interested in receiving the information I share. It would also be great to connect and fellowship with readers who are fellow Christians and help anyone who might be struggling with their faith. I have noticed a great need for clarification and guidance among Christians of all ages and walks of life, so I would love to be apart of providing what help I can in this area to those who seek it.
Through sharing content about faith and spirituality, I simply wish to be a good example and representation of the faith. Just the other day, I heard someone rant and rave about how “annoying” and “judgmental” Christians are. She claimed that “no one likes Christians” because they are “pushy, hypocritical and do everything wrong”. The worst part of this rant was that she, herself, is a Christian! Though I think it was a severe overstatement to lump all Christians into one basket, I do believe that many non-believers share her same sentiments. It is my desire to use this platform to hopefully demonstrate that Christianity is not how many people view or erroneously demonstrate it to be.
The overall point of this post is to answer any questions that may come up in the future and set a very definite tone for upcoming posts relating to faith and spirituality. Instead of allowing people to merely speculate what kind of person I must be, I have chosen to clear up any assumptions before they are formed. The following points are the top ten things I would like my readers to know about my religious/spiritual views as it relates to me as an individual. Hopefully, it helps put any concerns at rest and accurately illustrates the kind of Christian I am.
I Do Not Believe In Preaching At People
First and foremost, I am not a Bible banger nor will I ever be. Though my faith is the pillar of my life, day to day actions and interactions with others, my main priority is not to force my opinions or beliefs on you. My beliefs are simply that—mine. Your beliefs (or lack thereof) are exclusively yours. Whether you decide to ever amend these beliefs (or not) is 100% your decision. It is really important that my readers know that I am not seeking to convert anyone to anything at any time. I do believe it is important to demonstrate the goodness of the Lord and tell people about Him, but only if people are ready and willing to participate in that process. Manipulation and coercion through guilt, condemnation or anything similar never works, so there’s no point in doing it.
In my everyday life, I speak and act with the principles of my faith in mind. However, I do not feel it is necessary to constantly refer to religion in conversation or concern myself with the beliefs others may have as they relate to religion. I truthfully believe that people who are seeking or requiring my knowledge of the Christian faith shall find it all on their own. It is beyond my sense of duty or scope of responsibility to discuss my faith with anyone who hasn’t expressly asked me about it.
This being said, I ask any non-believing/non-Christian readers to be aware that this site is not about religion. Does it feature religious content? Yes. Do you have to read it? Absolutely not. If an article speaks to your spirit or grabs your attention, please read it. If not, please feel free to read articles under another category. No harm, no foul.
I Am LGBTQ-Friendly
I love people—Period. It is really quite unfortunate to feel that I must make a statement addressing this topic simply because of my faith. However, I know that many members of the LGBTQ community have a bad taste in their mouth towards Christianity due to maltreatment they’ve received from individuals who self-identify as some variety of Christian. I am not going to get too deep into this subject at this time and I’m not here to say who is right, wrong and why. What I will say is that I’m not here to judge anyone.
24KAD was always intended to be a place for all kinds of people—not just a select demographic. If you like my content and you are respectful towards all, I’m quite cool with you being here. My treatment of a person is independent of their lifestyle/behavior/whatever, which is the true essence of my faith. To love your brother is to love them fully. You do not get to pick and choose what to love. If people strove to approve of people more than they disapprove of actions, choices or preferences, the world would be a kinder and more tolerant place for all.
I Respect Other Faiths
As I will elaborate more on later, I have spent many years exploring, comparing and contrasting various faiths from around the world. I have always deeply enjoyed identifying the similarities and differences even if I had no desire to actually practice the things I learned. I think it is very important to respect other people’s right to practice their religions, even if we don’t always agree with them or subscribe to the teachings. I also think it is good to at least be aware of the basic principles of other religions because it allows us to better understand people who are different from us.
Being able to identify with and build relationships with people from all walks of life has always been a highly treasured aspect of my personality. I believe having a willingness to fully understand others’ perspectives might have contributed to this. Faith (or the lack thereof) frames people’s view of the world, impacting their actions, motives, etc. If you can understand the faith you can better understand the person. Without understanding, it can often become easier to worry over differences when we should be celebrating the ways in which we are similar.
Atheists, Agnostics and I Get Along—Peacefully!
I don’t have a problem with Atheists and more often than not, they don’t tend to have a problem with me either. I honestly know more non-believers than anything else! As much as I believe in my faith and remain true to it, I still have a very logical side to me. I question a lot of things in this world—there is more to me than blind faith. Heck, I love science as much as the next person. However, I still live by the mantra, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Do I think evolution and creationism can co-exist? Absolutely. From time to time, I find myself in the middle of friendly debates about “taboo” topics of conversation (religion, politics, etc). Such debates typically end peacefully, with people still speaking to one another!
I suppose this goes back to me not being the type of person to preach at people. I shy away from emitting a pious, self-righteous vibe because it’s not necessary, it’s not cool and it’s not appreciated by others. More importantly, it just isn’t helpful. If you really want to prove your point to someone, actually practice what you’d preach. That alone will get a person’s attention. If nothing else, you’ll stand out from most people who are usually all show and no go.
I Am Pro-Relationship/Anti-Religion
I am a non-denominational Christian. Titles serve me not. Where my faith is concerned, I have little to no interest in religion for religion’s sake. By this, I mean that I am far more interested in the relationship I have with God and the people I share this planet with, than all the “rules and regulations” that can come with religion. Though I am hardly dismissive of the principle tenets of my faith, I am not rehearsed, robotic or theatrical about anything I do concerning them.
I stress and promote having a pure and kind heart. I value showing gratitude and sharing yourself/resources with others. Unfortunately, some of the most religious people are also the most hypocritical and self-serving. Often, when it comes to pointing out the flaws of others, their eyesight is 20/20. Identifying their own shortcomings, however, renders them blind. I believe that when people operate from unselfish, genuine love the right actions will always follow. That’s the only “rule” I am particularly concerned with.
I Am Christian By Choice, Not Tradition
Though a good majority of my family is apart of one Christian denomination or another (with some Buddhists, Rastafarians and Atheists thrown in for good measure), I only recently decided that the faith made complete sense to me.
Though I have always held many Christian beliefs and believed in a God, I didn’t have the satisfaction of saying, “Yes, this is real. This completely resonates with me. I’m 100% sold on all of this.” For most of my life, I believed the Bible was simply a fantastically written story—no more, no less. For years, I searched for something that made sense and put life into meaningful context. I studied this religion and that religion, taking what I liked and leaving the scraps from each of them. I would be content for awhile before being left grasping for something else—something undeniably real.
Though it is a very long and complex story (albeit fascinating), I eventually reached a place where I didn’t find my faith, it found me. I share all of this to demonstrate that I was not raised in the faith to a degree that I would have been indoctrinated to only believe what I saw others believing or blindly subscribe to whatever I was told. I came to the faith completely on my own based on the experiences I’ve had in my own life. My faith has been presented to me as truth based on what I’ve seen, felt and personally experienced, which is more than likely the only way someone will ever find “proof” of God. Once you’ve earnestly looked for truth and found it, it becomes very difficult to write things off as mere happenstance or debunk it via logical reasoning. And believe me, if you look with an open, unbiased heart, you will always find what it is you seek.
I Value Spirituality & Unconventional Beliefs
In addition to my religious faith, I am very in tune with the spiritual side of humanity. In some ways, I am more interested in the spiritual realm than the physical one. I suppose this makes perfect sense in light of God being a spiritual being. But beyond that, some of my spiritual beliefs are somewhat independent of Christianity or the Bible. Though my beliefs will never be contrary to my religious faith, many of them can appeal and apply to non-believers and believers alike. Though some Christian extremists may find some spiritual concepts to be sacrilegious, I have found no evidence that suggests my beliefs oppose, defile or pervert the faith in the slightest.
Not everything that is religious is spiritual. Not everything that is spiritual is religious. I believe that spiritual exploration and development is something all humans can benefit from, irrespective of religious affiliation. I’ve studied spiritual matters at considerable depth for a number of years, so I look forward to being able to share anything I have found to be particularly valuable.
I Do Not Attend Church
I want to make it clear from the get-go that I am not anti-church. There are good churches and bad churches; I can’t make any all-encompassing statements about churches or churchgoers. I have attended church in the past and am not opposed to rejoining if I ever find one that resonates with me. Overall, I think that the benefits of church usually outweigh the potential negatives, but I do not believe that going to church is always necessary. What I do think is necessary is regular exposure to and study of the Word. I have ministers and Bible teachers that I consistently learn from. In addition to organized Bible study, I also study on my own.
As I mentioned before, I strongly feel that a believer’s primary focus should always be the development of a stronger relationship with God Himself. Church alone cannot change your spirit anymore than a gym can change your body. If you do not utilize the facility as it was originally intended, you won’t see any results.
I unfortunately know countless Christians who go to church like clockwork, yet they embody Christ no more than a rock does. They consistently fail to be compassionate, forgiving or charitable towards their fellow man. This is definitely not how it should be, but it does show that church is just a building if a person doesn’t retain and demonstrate the right heart attitude once they leave the premises.
I Am Not An Expert On Christianity
Have I got a degree in Religious Studies? Nope. Have I been living in a convent the last 20 years? Absolutely not. I am simply an average (?) individual who likes talking about Christianity and the ways that it can vastly improve your life. I have spent a good amount of time studying and learning how to apply the teachings to modern issues, but there’s still so much for me to learn! I honestly think a person could study Christianity day and night until the day they die and still not have a full revelation of everything there is to know.
I’ll be perfectly honest. I can’t quote scripture from memory like a lot of people can. However, whatever hasn’t been memorized by my mind is deeply engrained in my heart. I don’t think I wish to ever be a minister, preacher, whatever…I simply want to use my strange little talent for explaining Christian principles so I may help others live happier and more fulfilling lives.
I Am Far From Perfect
There is no such thing as a perfect person. Similarly, there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. I will always be the first to say that I am flawed as heck. Though I’m worlds better than I once was, I am not “there” yet and probably never will be. I still enjoy a good libation every now and again. Some of my vocabulary is a bit…colorful. The music I listen to sometimes has lyrics and subject matter that is highly questionable. There are still times when I don’t react the way I would like to, but I do always try to operate from a place of love, kindness and understanding. It’s a process.
In the great words of Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive divine.” Whether you are Christian, Atheist, Buddhist or “Not Otherwise Specified”, none of us will ever achieve perfection because we are human. In the absence of absolute perfection we can always strive to be better humans, which is what my site has always been about. I am hoping that by sharing my life and experiences with all of you, people can see that while I’ll never be perfect, the Lord above has done and continues to do amazing things in my life.
If you are reading this and aren’t experiencing your best life, take comfort in the fact that things absolutely can get better. Religious or not, I am living proof that you too can experience the most brilliant, beautiful existence ever. Curious? Just stay tuned. -XO