This I Believe

Dean - Cicero, New York
Entered on February 21, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that we are all equally chosen.

The only reason to be at church each weekend was for my Sunday School class. There was no curriculum, no program being used. We would pick a book from the Bible and read a few of verses. A discussion would then follow, with each person free to contribute their perspective on what had just been read.

I had been involved with churches such as this one for about 12 years .I had always found them to be welcoming places, kind to everyone who went along with what was being taught there. They had influenced my life in a significant way and provided a safe environment for my children as they were growing up.

The loose format for our class was enriched by the knowledge and willingness to disagree among the members of the group. Discussions could get quite contentious and heated. Many times our hour would pass with no more than a single verse of scripture having been discussed. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas.

Having been raised in an entirely different religious tradition, continuing to assent to teachings about the infallibility of scripture and the corrupt nature of human beings was difficult. They ran contrary to everything that I believed to be true. At one point, scriptures supporting the use of slaves were defended in my class. I found myself weighing the friendships that my children and I had made there against agreeing with notions that I knew were wrong. Sunday afternoons were becoming a time of inner conflict about what I had heard that morning.

The breaking point for me had to do with the notion that Christians alone are a chosen people, destined to receive eternal reward, for what may be mere one-time verbal agreement with one of many strands of belief. One of the most cherished things in my life is my work as a public school teacher. My approach is based on the notion that any child is capable of learning, growing and achieving great things. This concept of there being an “elect” ran contrary to this. Still, I was there every Sunday.

Finally a breaking point was reached. We were discussing a tragedy somewhere in the world. One of the members noted that this disaster—in which thousands had died—was a “great opportunity for ministry.” Another said, “After all, what does it matter how long an unbeliever lives?” This was chilling.

In seeing themselves as a chosen people, Biblical Christians frequently excuse any sort of injustice or disaster as being “God’s will.” Their perceived “chosen-ness” has crippled their “”human-ness.”With such a disregard for the people with whom they come into contact each day, how is the empathy and compassion that we each need to have for each other possible? Do we really believe in a God willing to discard much of his creation?

We are all a chosen people, equally called to give all that we can to each other.