Saturday, May 28, 2011

Religious differences DONT have to cause family rifts

My dear readers, I'd like to introduce you to my guest blogger for today.  He is a complete opposite from me, yet a close friend.  He is my brother, Tim.  Many families grow apart because of different belief systems.  I felt them at a young age when I was scolded by an aunt for sharing Jesus with my cousin.  It put a rift between my immediate family and her for many years.  I am SO thankful to have a brother who loves me and my family more than he loves proving a point.  I too, love him more than I love proving my point.  In the end truth will show itself.  So, with no further ado here is my brother's response to the latest blog entry I wrote about what we experienced together through my children...I love you Tim.

As you might imagine, I was caught off guard when first Cole, and then Seth, asked if I “knew Jesus.” Although we have talked freely about Jesus before, it has mostly been them sharing their favorite activities at bible school or Sunday school, or sitting with them at night as they pray and sing. And, while Seth once asked why I just sat with them but did not pray myself, I simply explained that some people pray and others do not—and I do not.

I think it is wonderful that my nephews are talking with me about Jesus. Many who read this blog will know that I was brought up in the church where Randy now has his ministry and, from the age of 11 until the age of 19 or so, considered myself a “born-again” Christian. Once I went off to college and travelled around the world a bit, it became clear to me that religious faith in general, and evangelical Christianity in particular, was just not a wordview that was consistent with what I was experiencing. So, with great fear and plenty of anger, I “left the faith.”

I used to find people telling me they were “praying for me” offensive. This would happen most often when I would return to the church I in which I grew up—for Megan’s wedding, or for a children’s program involving Seth or Cole. What I heard them saying in that simple phrase was “you are so lost, I am so found, and I hope you return to the path that is true and right.” In other words, I heard condescending judgment.

Over the years, however, as I have become stronger and more clear about who I am as a person and more confident in my own worldview, much of my anger and resentment toward Christianity generally, and the church in which I grew up specifically, has faded. When someone now tells me they are praying for me, I choose to hear that as an expression of love.

For whom do Christians pray? Well, presumably everyone, if the Lord’s prayer is an accurate model. But for whom do they pray in earnest? They pray for the people they love and care about. They pray for the people who are important to them. Prayer, in other words, is often an act of love.

For what do they pray? Well, presumably they pray for God’s will to be done (see Lord’s prayer reference above). But underneath that is often an earnest prayer for an outcome or development that is good for the person who is the object of their prayer. They pray for healing, for guidance, for employment, for wisdom and understanding, for safety, for friendship—for good things. Prayer, in other words, is often driven by hope.

I welcome the prayers and questions of my nephews. That they love me so much, and hope for the best for me and my wife, is a great gift to me. I would love to have many, many years of prayers from them and conversations with them. I also wish for myself the ability to communicate with Seth and Cole my hope and love for them as clearly and courageously as they do for me.

So, Seth and Cole, Uncle Tim has chosen not to have a relationship with Jesus. But, he cherishes his relationship with you both very much, and will talk with you about whatever you want to talk about, anytime!


  1. Amazing Tim! If only people of all faiths (and those who follow no particular faith practice) could receive statements of faith as an expression of love. I am touched and hope that this will serve as an example to many of how to accept and receive people from all walks of life. Blessings! (an expression of hope and caring).

  2. this post was very sweet. ditto on what pam said...i wish people of all beliefs could deal with their differences as lovingly.