Rhonda Brooks Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Faith and life can collide when we are honest with ourselves

Where are you in your life?  How about your faith? Are they entwined or do they exist as two separate beings you are trying to keep separate for fear that one contradicts the other?

Well, here’s some news for you:  YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Faith and life are inseparable but often in such stark contrast that we live in a word of self-loathing from the inside and surrounded by the truth of our hypocrisy.

Most people are so completely inconsistent in what they profess and how they live, no wonder a whole counter-culture has risen up in opposition to Christianity. No wonder we don’t see our churches growing like we see other sects in America and the world.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

We masquerade as Christians and live in hatred.  We pay homage to God, who IS love, by the way. And we walk out of the doors of our churches — if we even wait until we get outside — and stand in judgment and hate of those around us.

I am tired of hating myself, and judging others based on my own barometer of righteousness. This very morning, I was confronted with three different issues during my quiet time. I am struggling to know why one is bothering me more than the others. Among my friends are three people: one gay, one leaving their spouse for someone else, and one ultra-conservative who lives by the law rather than grace. My theology, although most likely flawed, professes that all sin is equal. Me getting angry and speaking in a foul way, My friend being gay, exchanging a spouse for a lover, and living under the Mosaic law rather than grace — all equally “evil” in the eyes of God.

So why can I, and two of my friends be accepted in church, and one cannot? Don’t pretend you don’t know which one.

I’m not advocating homosexuality, any more than I’m advocating adultery, cursing, or misguided legalism. I’m trying, feeble as the attempt may be, to draw us to a common conclusion: We are all messed up.

The sooner we realize it and start loving ourselves the sooner we can reach out with love to others. How in the world can we “love one another as you love yourself,”  when we are filled with self-loathing?

Quit denying that you are just as messed up as anyone you have ever judged. Admit that you don’t deserve God’s love, and you will be more thankful for the reality that his love flows down unconditionally, no matter what pig pen you are standing in. And that love can begin to overflow to your fellow pigs that are wallowing in the mud.

And maybe when we are loving each other, we can stop pushing each other back down in the mud.

Christ didn’t die so we can play church on Sunday and Wednesday, and live in hell on earth the rest of the week. Yet if you are honest with yourself, I think you’ll admit that is your life a majority of the time. Quit hiding your struggles and share one another’s burdens.

I can’t promise you’ll ever hear from me again, but if you read this and take it to heart, I’ve at least been obedient for this moment, and I’ve let my life and my faith collide. I hope you will do the same today.    

 (Editor’s note: Rhonda Brooks is the daughter of Dorothy Heath of Batesville and wife of Max Brooks who is currently a student at New Orleans Theological Seminary. They are parents of three children, ages 5, 8 and 10. Contact her at  <abbasrj@cox.net>.)