I’ve spent a bit of time, and very little effort, thinking about how neutral to keep my opinions and stories. Especially as I share it with a larger and larger audience. This week these questions have become more insistent as I watch the madness that seems to be going on in America right now over the statements made by the owner of Chick-Fil-A and the overwhelming response from conservatives and liberals alike. I absolutely don’t want to cause anger, or hurt, but I also want to be true to my faith and my God.
Yet, I have decided: This is my story, which I am sharing with you, and allowing Jesus Christ to guide. These are my decisions, and I am willing to discuss them at length with you. Until such a time as my life hurts that of another, I ask you to be kind and gracious if you disagree with anything I post here. My conservative Christian friends will shake their heads that I don’t more openly discuss my faith here, or wish I lived a more conservative/sacred life. And my friends without faith will wonder why I bother. These are all risks I am willing to take, as I move forward and start talking about both my physical life and my spiritual life here. Okay, are you ready?
I’m saying this…because when I moved to Thailand and decided to live with my friend and her family, knowing full-well that they were Buddhist and I am categorized as Christian, people cautioned me.
“Be careful. Please don’t offend them.”
“You need to be extra gracious to your hosts – you know you’re living in their country.”
“Please don’t give up on the church, or your faith. Even though you’re in a Buddhist society.”
Meant in love (at least by some), these cautions now irk me. My friend and host was the first to acknowledge that not only do I have a faith different from her, but it’s a consistent part of my weekly life. Even before I had mentioned it, she was looking for Christian churches nearby that I might be able to join. My faith has not angered or frustrated her (as far as I know!), and I don’t know why it would. I have visited many Wats (temples), and watched a few Buddhist ceremonies, graciously declining to join in and asking questions later.
The question often hits me, though, as Mod Dang looked for churches for me to join – respecting my faith and acknowledging I had no intention of leaving it behind – how many Christ-followers would do the same? Were you to have a Buddhist or Muslim living in your home, would you have helped them find a community for their faith? Or would you have simply hoped they would convert to yours?
My friend and I have discussed our faiths, and the accompanying lifestyles and traditions. If anything, there is more honesty and a deeper friendship between us BECAUSE we discuss these differences. My faith is clearer to me for living here these two weeks because I have had to wrestle with what started it and what impact it makes on my life as I explain it to someone else.
Please people, realize that being in the world but not of it doesn’t mean only associating with your section of society or faith.