Q & R: Participating without hiding?
Here's the Q:
I asked Jesus to save me when I was 5. I decided to follow Him when I was 16. I gave Him my life when I was 19. Since then, I've done the best I can discern to use His gifts of teaching, discernment, and leadership as I believe He has led. I am now 51. In every way but one, my beliefs mirror those of orthodox Christianity.
However, for a wide variety of reasons, and after extensive study, prayer, and conversation with other believers, over the last 8 years or so I've come to believe God will ultimately save every person. Unfortunately, this one belief makes me a heretic in every church I'm aware of in the city where I live; Naples, Florida. (Ironically, the one place I cannot discuss freely what I believe is the local church…)
I was just wondering whether or not you have any ideas on how I can authentically and transparently participate in Christian community without hiding what I have come to believe is true and so profoundly and positively affects my relationship with God and other people.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your response.
Here's the R:
Thanks so much for writing. I'm actually your neighbor to the south in SW Florida.
I'll offer one simple suggestion for handling the situation you - and many of us, for various reasons - find ourselves in.
There is enormous power in a vulnerable, non-directive statement.
To simply say, "I've come to a different understanding of that issue, but I certainly respect your perspective too" - and then, to avoid arguing or pushing anyone else to agree with you.
Yes, it's vulnerable. Others might reject you. But as long as you've counted the cost, you can probably handle that better than being less than transparent or authentic.