A Proud Cherry Picker
We were sitting right across from each other at the dining room table when he uttered the words,
“I wish you had less faith.”
I live in the South where being Christian is almost seen as a right of passage. Wear a cross necklace and all of a sudden you get a 10% discount on coffee at every local place in town. Bring your bible for 25% off and a free refill.
Roads on Sunday mornings are ungodly empty because everyone is out praying and preaching, leaving beautifully vacant highways for us non-Church goers.
So I was perplexed, to say the least, to hear someone telling me they wish I had less faith. Because, more often than not, I would have friends push me to go church, to read the Bible, to pray to God. But here was one of my closest friends requesting the complete opposite.
You see, I’m in a predicament. I’m faithful enough to not be considered agnostic anymore but I’m not devoted enough to call myself a Christian. I’m simply seeking.
And that doesn’t please either side.
“I wish you had less faith,” he said.
I was creating an obstacle for one of my closest friends, who shared very little interest in religion. We used to question the Bible in a cynical way. We used to express our irritation with politicians who offered “thoughts and prayers” instead of action. We used to be connected to each other ironically because we weren’t connected with God.
And after opening my mind to the idea that God might actually exist, I changed.
And although I see the benefits in my life as I opened my heart to the idea of Christ, I recognized the impact it has had on my friendships. We agreed less, argued more. And I couldn’t get my side across because it was based on an ideology he didn’t believe in. My side couldn’t exactly “click” with him. My relationship with God unintentionally created a wall, a wall higher than Trump could ever dream of. And I never thought Christianity could do such a thing as it’s all about loving one another.
I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. I don’t believe only Christians go to Heaven. I cannot begin to fathom evangelizing those with completely different cultures and backgrounds who live lives vastly different from those in the western hemisphere. And I don’t believe Christianity is the only way; it is simply the way that works for me.
And I guess that means I’m going to Hell.
My Christian friends will tell me, “You have to believe in everything the Bible says. You have to be Christian to go to Heaven. And you have to spread the word of Christ.”
Now of course, they will not tell me straight out like this. They lace their harsh views in support, patience, and compassion. They are wonderful people with strange views that puzzle me.
Why do I have to believe all of this?
“You can’t cherry pick the Bible", they say.
I think when people think of a cherry picker, they picture a deadbeat teenager who doesn’t respect their parents, parties every night, pops cherries, and “prays” for forgiveness on Sunday only to do the same thing again.
But in my experience, that is not a cherry picker.
This is a cherry picker.
Someone who is searching for Christ. Someone who cannot understand ALL aspects of the Bible but takes it piece by piece, verse by verse. Someone who has not committed fully and is not sure if they ever will but is open to the idea of religion. Someone who sees contradictions in the Bible and has questions where there are few answers. A cherry picker is not a negligent individual. A cherry picker is someone whose mind and heart is so open to all ideologies, they struggle to comprehend this is the only way.
You see, I’m grabbing all the cherries I can but I’m only 5’4’’. I grab the shiny red one that says" “build a relationship with God.” I reach for the handful that taste of the sweet forgiveness given by Jesus Christ. I pluck 10 cherries, one for each Commandment.
But the ones I can’t grasp are the ones on the tallest trees. The ones that tell me Christ is the only way to salvation.
When you get a multiple choice question in an exam, how many times is the correct answer the one that starts “every”, “all” , “only” or “none”?
There is a reason and that is because most cases have exceptions. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is only one way.
But I can’t fathom that. I’ve tried, but these views, these cherries are too high for my grasp, too ripe for my taste.
I am doing what I can, with what I can understand. I’m keeping an open mind, an open heart, and I am proud to pick the cherries I can reach.
How can we expect a mustard seed to grow, when we immediately demand a tree?