After spending three-and-a-half years in the heat and humidity of Tampa, San Francisco felt particularly chilly that afternoon. Adjusting my beanie and buttoning up my sweater, I made my way through the Mission district to talk God with a friend over Chinese. Somewhere between the BART station and the restaurant it occurred to me I had never actually had a conversation with this person and suddenly I grew anxious. Though they seemed nice and sincere in their love for God, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of all the Christians I met only to be let down.
If I’m honest, I don’t really get along with Christians. Whenever I recount arguments I’ve had with people, more often than not, it’s been with Christians. It’s never an issue of denomination as much as it’s an issue of discipleship. I often feel like the odd man out and as much as I’d like to believe it means I’m Christ-like, I won’t lie to myself that way.
Around conservative Christians, I’m the liberal heretic. I don’t subscribe to right-wing politics, I’m not a young earth creationist, if I had to pick a favorite writer I’d probably say James Baldwin, and you can sometimes catch me at bars trying to love my non-Christian friends. Yet around more liberal circles, I’m the conservative tightwad. I don’t drink (though it’s okay if you do), I don’t watch rated-R movies (though it’s okay if you do), I do believe in the authority of Scripture and as much as I complain about the church and Christians, I am still part of the family.
Just the other day I was at lunch (apparently, I eat a lot) with a local pastor discussing life in Cayman when he said something interesting. Because locals make up less than half of the population, Cayman is a very transient country. Oftentimes folks move here with the intention of staying “for only a few years” and don’t want to invest in relationships. They never unpack. Conversely, most locals don’t want their friendship anyway because they figure it’s only a matter of time before these sojourners leave them like everyone else.
I mention this because I did retake the spiritual growth assessment I mentioned last week; and while it certainly wasn’t my weakest area, “fellowshipping with believers” was surprisingly low. When talking with the pastor I realized why. In the past year-and-a-half I’ve been in Cayman, already a good number of my friends have left or are considering leaving and because I don’t know how long I’ll be here I’ve been tempted to withdraw. Though the pastor didn’t direct this towards me, I felt the loving correction of the Lord as he spoke. As long as God has called me to be here, I am called to be here. Sitting on the sideline waiting to go isn’t an option, as painful as playing may be.
Last week I talked about my desire for growth. Part of that is relating to my brothers and sisters in the faith, especially as I live in Cayman. I’ve decided to take a chance attend a guy’s retreat with some friends in July. Perhaps if you’ve been struggling with the same thing you can step out in faith as well. Maybe we’ll find God’s goodness waiting on the other side.