Jun 23, 2011

What I Believe

I don’t talk about my faith very much on the Internet. I think it’s because I have this idea that I want you to see me, not my beliefs, but I’m starting to learn (even if I’m, oh, 25 years late on this one) that my beliefs are me. I act this way because of what I believe. I react to you that way because of what I believe.

I don’t list my religion on Facebook because I can’t find a term that seems to fit. “Christian” is too generic. “Evangelical” seems politically charged. I don’t have a distinct denominational affiliation, so that won’t work either.  I don’t want to look like I’m waving my little bit of knowledge around by listing my favorite doctrine or theological term. Listing myself as “slave to the Most High Creator of The Whole Universe  i am but a lowly worm” looks a bit overkill. Besides, I wasn’t a pastoral major. (Moody joke. Rimshot.)

I don’t list my faith in my Twitter profile. I only have 160 characters there, so I had to get the important things in. You know, the part where I say I like food.

I think I was going for something like “win them without a tweet”.

Everything was just fine, until I had a rude awakening the other night. I tweeted about my little sister, who is braver than I am, and who can’t help but talk about her Jesus. Some Guy saw the tweet, clicked her profile, and read this: Student at Moody Bible Institute// Lover of Youth Ministry// Follower of the only God// General havoc wreaker

Now, my tweet concerned the most amazing robot earrings in the whole world which my little sister had just given me, not anyone’s beliefs. But Some Guy didn’t comment on the earrings. He responded to my tweet with “Follower of the only God? #lololololololololol #readasciencebook”.

When I saw that, my first reaction was to try to kill the guy. How dare he pick on my little sister? But I knew yelling wouldn’t get me anywhere. So I told him that Twitter was for being nice, and he should try that. I also said that he didn’t have to follow me if he didn’t like my beliefs, he didn’t have to follow me. That’s when he said it.

He said “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know they were your beliefs too.”

Ok. First of all, let’s set aside the fact that he thought I’d be all for him making fun of my little sister’s beliefs that I didn’t share. That he thought he and I could have a little hashtag heckle-fest at my little sister’s expense. Nod knowingly at her ignorance. My little sister. Maybe he’s an only child. Maybe he doesn’t get the whole sister thing. Maybe. Anyway.

The point is, he had no idea that I am a Christian.

I don’t know how long Some Guy has been following me. Maybe it’s only been a few days. But whatever. I’m not really leaking the love of Christ like I thought I was. Nobody’s getting saved by osmosis here.

Worse, no one even knows. I have all these Twitter friends, and they can only make a half-hearted guess at the most important thing in my life. But hey, they know my position on oxford commas and falafel. (Yes and yes.)

So, in case you were wondering, here it is. This is what I believe.

I believe that we were created for fellowship with God, and we broke that fellowship.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who lived a perfect life as fully man and fully God. He died because he loves us, and because his sacrifice was the only way to repair the relationship that we broke.

I believe that the Bible is the true, inerrant word of God.

I believe in the one true God, maker of Heaven and Earth.

That’s the brunt of it. There’s more, really. Lots more. But these are the four things that I’m not going to fudge on, and I’m not going to argue about.

Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to change my behavior on the Internet. I’m not a theology blogger, and I’m not a Christian-living blogger, and I don’t tweet C.S. Lewis quotes all day long. I don’t plan to be or do any of those things. I usually avoid any real depth of feeling at all. I assume you’d rather read funny little stories about my conversation with the Falafel Man then hear about the depths of my soul. That bit’s private. I’m not sure what I want the balance to be. I’m not sure what it should be. Maybe I’m using this post as a cop-out because I’m scared of what would happen if I did tweet C.S. Lewis quotes all day. Or lived 100% authentically on all fronts.

Anyway, something’s got to give. I’m afraid of being mistaken for someone I’m not.



  • Hi. 🙂

    Two things.

    1. Some Guy is kind of a jerk. Or maybe just thoughtless. Putting aside the sister thing, I don’t understand the practice of heaping scorn on other people’s beliefs, as if religious belief automatically equates to idiocy. There are religious idiots, like all other kinds of idiots, but how about giving strangers the benefit of the doubt? Most deeply religious people have carefully considered their beliefs and work hard to put them into practice in everyday life. (Also, hello, you work for Tyndale. How does that not compute for Some Guy?) Anyway.

    2. I think about this all the time. It’s a little different for me because I have two twitter accounts: one for just grammar/language stuff, and one more personal one. It doesn’t really feel like compartmentalization as much as it feels like keeping personal and professional separate – which was the goal. Most of the people that follow my personal twitter account know me and know what I believe, so it’s sort of a non-issue there. This is more of a thing for me with facebook, where I have a huge mix of family, friends, colleagues, etc. I’m not a big politics-poster (heh, picture me as a 24×36, why don’t you?) or a big theologian, I don’t get into facebook status debates, and I don’t do Christian living writing. I think, like you, those things are a little more private, and deserve more room and consideration than facebook or twitter generally afford. Mostly I just try to be authentically me. And when I want to post something about faith but feel intimidated by imaginary people inside facebook who I think will judge me, well, that’s when I definitely post. Because like you, I don’t want to be mistaken for someone I’m not, and when it comes down to it, I’m someone who believes in Jesus more than anything else. No matter how much I talk about baking.

    All that to say don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t be afraid to push yourself either. I think the authentic you is pretty great. 🙂

  • Atheist twitterers and bloggers are just as likely to get jumped on by loud-mouthed, overbearing Christians. I don’t mean this as a you-guys-do-the-same-thing gotcha, but just to point out that stupidity, intolerance, and egotism aren’t limited to any one philosophical belief system. It is, unfortunately, just something we have to learn to live with, I guess.

    No matter what you or I believe — even if it’s just about the Oxford comma (and I’m with you on that one) — there’s someone out there who vehemently believes the exact opposite. We hope that when those people comment on those subjects, they do so with respect and emotional restraint, but we can only hope.

    Some people write letters to the editor or start blogs. But other people scratch things out on bathroom stalls. You just have to paint over it and forget it.

  • Jesse, you are brave. You are a beautiful big sister and beautiful sister in Christ. I struggle with these sorts of things too, but I usually do some kind of awkward dance between being loud for God, for social justice, For Truth with a Capital T, and being loud because that’s my personality, which is sort of distracting from God sometimes, but hey, isn’t it authentic? I really appreciate what you’ve said here, so thank you for that. 🙂

  • Good job, Jess…Glad you went ahead and put it out there! Hey, just say what you want to say, WHEN you want to say it, and you can’t go wrong! Remember we FOLLOW you because we wanted MORE of you…the authentic you! <3 btw SomeGuy is shallow & tiresome…hope he goes away. :v

  • I was at a funeral a little while ago, and a good 2/3 of the family is decidedly “Christian” (of a particular brand that is exclusive – they’re in, everyone else is out). A good 60% of the funeral “celebration” was an attempt to convert the last 1/3 of the heathen folk to the truth.

    If my life doesn’t lead people to Jesus, I don’t think my death will (or my funeral should even try to). I’ve instructed my wife and closest friends that, when I die, I want pizza and drinks, and an open mic for anyone who wants to take a shot at me. I won’t mind where I’m going.

    I don’t think Twitter is (or should be) an outreach tool. It’s an extension of who you are. I know you’re a Christian, even if you don’t proselytize all the time. And I don’t think anyone was going Some Guy. You don’t have to wear your religion on your sleeve; just keep Jesus in your heart. (bonus points for the corny line)

  • You probably won’t read this seeing as it’s on such an old post and even then you might simply decide not to answer but I thought I might as well ask and see what happens.

    I’ve been reading a lot of your stuff on here and I’ve really enjoyed it, I’m totally cool with people believing whatever they want so long as those beliefs don’t conflict with the rights of or otherwise impact others.

    So in your mind is gay marriage / homosexuality O.K or not O.K?

    I only ask because you state “I believe that the Bible is the true, inerrant word of God”. I’m not trying to start some kind of argument with you and especially not to pass some kind of judgement on you as a person. I simply find it’s a good litmus test for people I get along well with and enjoy reading stuff from.

    Thank you.

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