This post has been on my heart for a while, but has taken me a while to put into words. After thinking this through, and deciding how exactly I would communicate what started out as a list of frustrations, I have come to peace with starting with an apology to several groups of people.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ:
I apologize for so many years of believing that the ‘tribe’ I am a part of is the only right tribe in the Christian world. In my youth I came to the conclusion that the narrow path that Jesus spoke of was neatly defined by the doctrine that I believed. This meant that anyone who didn’t believe what I believed and worshipped the way I worshipped was, at best, a ‘poor misguided soul’. I spent too much time comfortably defending my position and not nearly enough time contributing to the kingdom. This thinking was first rattled in college, when I had a roommate from a different faith tradition. He spent more time in the word, more time in prayer, and more time living a life of worship than anyone else I had ever met. I was forced to ask the question for the first time, “How can this not be acceptable to God?” I have continued to have abandoned the old way of thinking as I spend more time with friends from different veins of faith. As I see their hearts in action and experience their love for God and the kingdom I am continually stirred in my soul. Over the years these experiences have haunted me every time I have heard anyone grandstand an ‘our way is the right way’ attitude. I think of how many people I have excluded from God’s grace over the years and am very humbled, and sad. I pray that you all will accept my apology as I continue to strive towards a Christlike spirit of inclusion as opposed to exclusion.
To my friends and neighbors:
I apologize for the times where my heart, actions and attitude get in the way of you experiencing God’s love. I understand that I have been a stumbling block to your faith, and am once again completely humbled in asking for your forgiveness. I also apologize on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have acted likewise. As I spend more time focusing on on my relationship with Christ, I pray for your patience as that relationship continues to challenge me to focus more on loving others as God has loved me. Also, that I will spend more time focusing my heart on the things that Christ would focus on.
I apologize for the way I have misrepresented you to the world. My heart aches thinking about how many of your children I have hurt or excluded from your grace. I pray for your forgiveness as I strive to draw closer to you before I dare presume to speak or act on your behalf. I ask that you continue to liberate me from the confines of my own dogma and allow me to live more fully in Your word and spirit.