Or maybe they’re too afraid.
They can’t admit that they believe something just a little differently than what they believe everyone else believes. They show their faces in church, but their authentic voices are silenced in an effort to avoid shame.
Maybe they think no one will accept them. Or they think that eternal punishment will follow them into the afterlife for having a heretical believe. Maybe they think that their pastor will find them to be the congregation’s freak or banish them from church activities.
Here’s the one thing we rarely speak of in our churches or from our pulpits: no two people think or believe alike. We go about our days believing every Christian has a clone belief structure. What we don’t validate is that no one does. Each person is influenced by life experience and the Holy Spirit in such unique ways that they experience the Divine in their own context.
In seminary we learned about the Wesleyan Quadralateral as a possible structure of our faith. No longer is Scripture the only influence but our tradition (family, denomination, congregation, etc.), way we reason and our life experiences give us a lens in how we see God and the Holy in our lives.
If each and every person is influenced by these four pieces, whether they know it or not, then each and every person’s belief structure is just a little different than the person sitting next to them.
So you may keep wondering, “What if the person next to me finds out that I don’t believe in a literal Bible or virgin birth? What if they see deep within my soul that I have deep doubts? What if they believe I’m not a ‘real’ Christian?”
What is a “real” Christian anyway…
It no longer matters. As long as you take you faith journey seriously and commit to taking care of your neighbors (not hurting any of God’s creation), then why should it matter what you believe?
Congregations are like a stained glass window. Each person within the congregation is a different sliver of tinted glass. When the light of Christ shines through the multi-color window, a beautiful array of color falls upon the carpet and pews of the sanctuary.
If all the colors in the window were alike, the beauty would not be so great.
So churches, stop avoiding the silent diversity that hides in the souls of your church. Instead, celebrate the uniqueness that abides within you. Celebrate the colors swirling around your sanctuary. Know that in our diversity, splendor abounds.