I was thinking about my dad, and my friends’ dads. Many of my friends and I are tied up living our lives the way our fathers lived theirs, seeking to fulfill our fathers’ dreams, which is ultimately futile because, after all, we aren’t them. What’s important to my dad isn’t necessarily important to me. If I spent my time seeking after those things which he considers most important, I’d be frustrated and unhappy. In fact, that may be how I got to be so darn frustrated and unhappy!
An important part of life is figuring out what’s important to each of us and pursuing those highly personal goals. I don’t think you can really be happy or be at peace with yourself seeking out someone else’s goals for your life. I think life should be a journey of self-discovery. I think you can see that journey reflected in the lives of the first generation of Christians as Jesus threw into disarray what their earthly fathers wanted for each of them.
I think, Peter, Paul, James, Barnabas, and the rest had their worlds shaken to the core, and then asked themselves, “What is really important to me now, given this new information about Jesus of Nazareth?” I think they spent the rest of their lives trying to live out their own faith within the context of their own lives, and struggled constantly to live out their own authentic faith.
However, it seems to me that rather than view our lives as journeys of personal and customized faith, we’re trying to copy Peter and Paul’s faith. We’re trying to replicate the lives of the saints. We’re forcing ourselves into the molds other generations left behind. We’re using their cookie-cutter saint-shapes to cut the corners and edges off ourselves so that we look like them.
That’s ridiculous, if for no other reason than we’re in an utterly alien culture and technological era relative to anything that’s come before. But it’s also ridiculous when you consider that even Peter and Paul didn’t try to look like one another. Paul and Barnabas didn’t try to copy each others’ methods. James and John could have been “frenemies” for all their differences of opinion and doctrine.
Here’s my point: I look at my life, and I’m disappointed. I’ve tried to live my life of faith the way other people lived theirs, and it’s been a disaster. Totally unfulfilling, and almost completely bereft of fruit. What if I’m not supposed to look, smell, taste, feel, or sound like anyone in the Bible, or anyone else on the Internet?
What should I look, smell, taste, feel and sound like, as a Christian witness? And what about you? How do you and I find our unique “voices” to speak and act out Jesus’ words of eternal life?