Honestly, it is just so much more than I ever thought it was.
The more questions I ask, the more I wonder, the more I stand in awe. The more I learn of the history, of how we got to here, I am caught up in the depth and beauty and complexity of it all. Stepping beyond the surface of this faith has not diminished it at all, for me it has made it more alive and vibrant and beautiful. For a religion that birthed out of Judaism, where questioning and wrestling are fundamentals, we have certainly strayed.
In the early days of my faith curiosity, I remember naively walking into a local Christian bookstore and asking if they had any books on the Jewish roots of Christianity, the lady (who I knew from church) handed me a tract.
How did we get from there to here? How have we so separated the Jesus we worship from the fact that He WAS JEWISH? Why are we afraid of people getting curious about the history of it all? And I am not just talking about the history from Martin Luther to today, not just the last 500 years! I am talking about the similarities of our revered Old Testament stories to those of other cultures and religions that, if you are comfortable with it or not, did indeed come long before the time of the Jewish versions. Other cultures around the Hebrews influenced and informed their view of God, which means our view of God.
That Christmas tree you put up every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, where did the tradition come from? Did you know that it points back to Celtic rituals? Did you know that the New Testament is a deeply political book? Have you considered that the term “Son of God” was not a new or unique term coined for Jesus, but rather a deeply political statement that spoke a nonviolent resistance to the Roman Empire? Caesar was the Son of God. The more I dig, the more I learn, the more I familiarize myself with the nuances of the cultures and context of the books of the Bible the greater my reverence for Yahweh becomes.
When you allow curiosity to take you beyond “Was Jonah swallowed by an actual whale?” to “What is the book trying to say?” to the self reflection required to consider “Wow. Am I willing to take God’s message of grace and forgiveness to my greatest enemy? To those who hold me captive, who took everything I had, to those whose names I can’t even speak, to those I hate, to those I fear, to those who are different and evil and bad and mean and who kill the innocent. To those I do not understand.”
That doesn’t lead you astray.
That blows it all up and leaves you sitting with the pieces of what you thought it was and an ever increasing understanding of what it actually is.