Well that was an awful first impression
You know how some people say, “I grew up going to church,” with a smile on their face? I say the same thing but with a look as though I’m recalling that time I dropped my sunglasses in the otter exhibit at the zoo (yes, that happened). In other words, an unfortunate scenario that’s now a regretful memory.
To be fair, it wasn’t my decision. I went to church because…my parents went to church.
That was the depth of my relationship with God and faith.
“Believe in Jesus and the Bible,”
“Because I said so.”
And that was my life for a few years. Fast forward to eight year old me, and perhaps out of boredom, I started asking questions. Annoyingly tough questions, like:
- What happens to people that live and die having never heard the name Jesus?
- What about people that don’t have the mental ability to understand the concept of God?
- How about children who are born and die young having never known God either?
I either received no answer or even worse, horrible non-answers, i.e. ‘God takes care of his children.’ That’s nice…and not at all close to what I was looking for. Now as I had no foundation for my faith at this point, the “just believe in God’s plan” type of answers fell flat.
So I walked away. From God, church, faith, religion—you name it. God was something I didn’t understand, and therefore, didn’t need in my life.
When the voice of reason gave me the silent treatment
Well now I was just annoyed. Here were all these people going to ‘church’. And why? For what? No, I was actually asking. At the time, I wasn’t able to see or understand what people got out of going.
Go to a building. Wear nice clothes. Throw money in a basket. Get stale bread and grape juice in return. Whoever negotiated this deal didn’t know what they were doing.
Now, if you ever have a conversation with me about my faith you’ll learn that I’m a very logical and rational person. If there’s something I don’t understand, I will investigate it, study it, and learn it until I feel comfortable with the knowledge I have. So off to the library I went.
I wandered to the RELIGION section and started picking up books. Judaism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and so on. As a kid, my knowledge of other religions was like being told a rumor, from a stranger, over a walkie talkie that crackles in and out. If you had asked me if there were other religions beyond Christianity, my answer would have been, “Yes…?” Emphasis on the question mark.
So as I started to read about all these other beliefs and types of faith, an ironic thing happened. On the one hand, I began to see just how big this whole God/faith thing was. Even if it wasn’t the same God, people still believed in a higher power. Lots of people. For millennia.
But on the other hand, no one could agree on anything! How stupid is that?! The argument of the day seemed to be, “my God is better than your God.” And then when you factor in things like the Crusades, the Church of England, the Puritans, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East—no thanks, I’m out.
There was another book I picked up around this time. It was on atheism. Twelve years old and that’s what I chose.
We’re doing this my way (which was God’s way all along)
Eventually, I found my way back to my faith (for time’s sake, I’m skipping over a lot here). It was a slow process and definitely on my own terms, but I now have a better understanding of what faith means to me. I know that it’s different for everyone. I know that God has no limits. And I know that He finds a way to reach people in different times, places, and ways.
That being said, One Church doesn’t need to tailor their message or the music specifically to me. I just need to show up and be open to listening, which is not an easy thing to do. It took me more than a decade to take my first real step and I’m still walking forward.
For me, One Church is a place that can help guide people on their own journey, wherever they are in it. Maybe you’ve been on yours for years, or took a wrong turn recently, or feel like you’re going in circles. Or maybe you haven’t taken that first step yet but that’s all right.
Wherever you are in your journey, I know the people of One Church can help you find your path.
written by: Zach Hardison, October 24, 2016
Zachary Koala Hardison is an eternal optimist, published author, and creative storyteller. He lives in New Albany, OH, with his wife, daughter, and two cats. If interested, you can find info on his book at cursetheday.com.