by Robin Whetstone
What Is the Point?
A tour guide told me recently that John Wesley was run out of Savannah for writing down everyone’s sins in a big book he carried around with him everywhere. (This same tour guide also said, “Who’s he?” when I pointed out Flannery O’Connor’s house, so.) A major point to being a Christian for Methodists, and for a lot of Calvinists I’ve not had beers with, is personal holiness.
The liberation theologians in UF’s religion department believed that justice was the point of Christianity. Christianity upends oppression and unjust power structures. People who identify most with this aspect of Christianity say things like “It was only when King started talking about class that they shot him, you know.”
Russians and Catholics focus on Christ’s suffering, because Russians and Catholics are always suffering. Pain is a big part of life, and Mary and Jesus help you bear it. A lot of white Americans think God is an ATM.
Lately, I think a lot about the fruits of the spirit and my own experience, and I think that Christianity does something to your heart. Inoculates it from fear? I don’t know. It transforms it, definitely, but not for your benefit. It doesn’t make things easier. I sometimes think the point of Christianity is that it makes you able to do the things you must do for others, whatever those things may be. Is this what it means to be holy? Is this what it takes to do justice?
This is why I love Lent. Lent gives me space to ask bigger questions than “should I eat this?” Giving up or taking on something makes me stop and ask, for what? What is the point of being a Christian?
The smartest people I trust the most answer, “glorifying the creator.” They don’t specify what that means. Maybe figuring out through prayer, listening, ritual, and asking questions how each of us glorifies the creator is the point of Christianity? I’m seriously asking.
Would anyone be up for a Sunday school class on this topic? I could host a class called “What’s the Point?” It could be followed by a second class (probably led by my husband, har har) called “Why Does There Always Have to Be a Point?” We could also consider another Renovare class, which talks about areas of spiritual focus and growth. Anyone?
Happy Lent, everybody.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV): But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.