There are two types of Christians (well. there are more than two, but for my purposes right now, I’m only going into these two): the ones who forget what it was like to NOT be a Christian, and the ones who never really knew. functionally, they act quite the same, but one has more of an excuse than the other to act like jackasses.
Often in my church, whenever praying for the kids in the congregation, people will use the phrase “may they never know a day without the Love of God.” In a way, I actually think it would be better, in the long run, if they DO know a day without God’s love, if they DO have a sense of complete utter despair and loss of purpose and darkness and a general existentialist crisis. Because I think too often it is so much easier to just believe and never doubt and never wonder, and in doing so, completely write off all other options and, inextricably, all other people. I think without any period, however brief or extended, of feeling the great enormity of struggle and of conceding, even for just a moment, that this is all terribly remarkably wrong, a person will lose sight of what it means to believe – to change from unbelief to belief – to recognize what you did not recognize before – and to acknowledge what part (how very little a part really) you played in it.
I think that the end result here should be compassion and respect. A deep profound compassion and respect for all people no matter where they currently are on the vast spectrum of belief (and i won’t say unbelief because everyone believes in *something* if not “religion” per se). We must understand that not all trains go to the same stations and not all passengers have the same destination, even though we all try so desperately to shove people into the same car as us, all at the same time.
And we definitely must stop trying to be the conductor. We try so hard to know everything, every train schedule and station name. We think that we have a handle on the entire system and can answer every question, but we CANNOT and will NEVER be able to. And that’s ok, but we have to admit it. And we have to entertain the idea that not knowing is the single greatest fear another person may have. And it will take, not coincidentally, an Act of God Himself to bestow the Grace that person will need to believe. In fact, only by His Grace do any of us believe in the first place.
Plus, none of us have the hat or the really nifty coin dispenser.
Exhibit A. Das ist un Schaffnertasche mit Galoppwechsler! Machs gut!