So far I threw out guilt, hell, fundamentalism and the need to have a handle on God. Today I am wrapping up the “race” as religious metaphor. In the Christian story, a writer named Paul used it to describe his spirituality and ever since Christians have been in competition with one another. (It is probably more complex than that, but for argument’s sake, let us keep it like that.)
“Who will be first?”
“Who will be last?”
“What will the prizes be?”
“Am I fast enough?”
“I hope the others struggle or fall or trail behind.”
“God I hope I win.”
Is that really a healthy way of looking at spirituality? I can imagine that in Paul’s context it was revolutionary or at least helpful. But in a society where everything is about winning and no one ever sits still, because you might just get left behind, the race as metaphor is like fuel on the fire.
Eventually you end up with the “not good enough feeling”, because in life there is always someone faster, stronger, bigger and better. Your fall is detrimental. You can’t always win.
But religion doesn’t tell you this. Loosing is just not on. You have to win; otherwise you’ll get kicked out of the team. It’s as simple as that.
Then I look at the life and teachings of Jesus and somehow the race metaphor does not fit. When Jesus called people to follow him, he chose the losers of his day to be part of a countercultural movement where people found healing and restoration in the belief that they are loved by God “as is” and not as “supposed to be”. One day a few of his friends got into an argument of who is in the lead towards the finish. Jesus, overhearing the conversation, rebuked them and sent them back to the end of the line to learn about the art of unselfishness.
The kingdom of God, as Jesus spoke of it, is a journey where the way is just as important as the destination. Jesus came to give us life, not tire us out. Faith is not an effort to grab pole position towards the finish line.
We are called to walk together, carry each other and share life together.