Friday, January 2, 2009

Heritage

There is something beautiful about heritage. Antiques bring warmth to a room, stories of heroic ancestry tantalize, and inheriting a rich heritage is generally rewarding. There are only a select group of individuals who appreciate antiques though, most see them as old dusty things saved by pack rats. Most cannot truly value antiques because they do not know about them, they are not well studied in their quality or beauty. Commonly, most cannot see significance in something they have little education on nor can they accurately adore it. Or you run in to the flip side of the problem and things are taken for granted because they are just handed down to them. It is hard to care for something unless you’ve invested yourself in it. This is what leads to the inevitable argument between myself and my brother every summer. We get along fine and argue about few things, but this, I mean this, is something I argue about. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL and lived there until I was 22. I have been in Indianapolis, IN for almost 3 years now and so have become acclimated to only seeing concrete creation, living downtown. I remember the first time I flew home to visit from Indianapolis. It was one of those moments where everything goes quiet, a bright light shines, and you hear a heavenly choir singing Alleluia, like the clouds rolled back and a peek of God’s glory was revealed. I looked out my window to see water EVERYWHERE, the beach, the river, the inter-coastal water way, and for the first time ever I realized how beautiful it is in Florida. Growing up there you don’t appreciate it because it is always there, you take it for granted. When I visit in the summer I always want to go to the beach! This is what begins the inner wrath, this response to my request for a day at the beach, “It’s too hot dude, let’s go to the pool.”

I think baseball is a dumb sport. I think it is simple, try to hit a ball, run as fast as you can to a base, and catch a ball if it flies around you. I know that it requires athleticism, but don’t appreciate it because I don’t know the game. My brother desires a chlorine filled, static tub of water called a pool over the beach because he takes it for granted because it’s always there for him, children inherit what they think is junk and don’t value it as priceless antiques because they don’t know the history behind it all. The reality is that man does not appreciate things that are always at his finger tips, frequents his path, he inherits, he does not understand, or has little education on. Heritage is not valued.

As I meet new people and get to know them, naturally, I tend to ask them about what drives them, what they believe, what kind of lifestyle they are into, etc. I have friends who admit they are looking for something and are on a journey for answers. The conversation is ok when I say things like God, greater being, something else out there, or creation, but it always turns uncomfortable when I say Jesus or Christian. What’s interesting is at some point in my conversation I will hear several of these comments:

“My whole family is really religious, but I just don’t like it…”

“Christians are so mean though, I know Christians and they are closed minded and hypocrites…”

“I don’t want to be churchy, like I’m not into going…”

“I just don’t believe in it all…”

I understand and can relate to a lot of these things. I never argue with them or try to impose my faith on them, I always just ask them if they’ve ever researched it for themselves. I would say of all the people I have met that I have these kind of conversations with a striking majority answer, “No.”

So what does that have to do with antiques, an annual argument with my brother, and heritage? Those who have access to an overwhelming amount of Christianity or have a large Christian heritage typically inherit faith and do not and cannot fully appreciate it by inheritance alone. This is not to knock a Christian heritage. I have no Christian heritage. My life would look much different if I did. Because of that when people started talking to me about Jesus I was so skeptical and didn’t trust anything they said. The distrust and skepticism is a direct effect of the large exposure I had to “American Christianity” and the opinion I had formed without education. I am nerdy or dorky I guess, by the way, in saying that last week in another conversation I made up a new word, “Norky,” a combination of nerdy and dorky! That makes me laugh…my randomness is amusing to myself at times. So because of my astuteness I decided to not just have an uneducated opinion, but inform myself and do a little digging. I had to research and study this Jesus/Bible thing myself. When I did that I found that a lot that I had thought or didn’t believe was actually not in the Bible or was just terribly represented by messed up people. I guess the point here is that once I made an investment of myself into it, I began to appreciate, understand, and even enjoy it, I actually started to live it. I came to know Jesus because I had no heritage and I pushed the exposure of a religion I had away and studied for myself. Most people who do have a heritage don’t do this, they accept what has been passed down. The danger in doing that is you don’t have your own faith, you don’t understand, you don’t appreciate, and you eventually reject something you don’t even know why you reject.

Heritage is rich, antiques are beautiful, the beach is worth going to even if you live 5 minutes away! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience something stunning because it is foreign to you and is only faith that has been handed down or based on an uneducated opinion. The life Christ offers is the most amazing thing I’ve studied and try to live, so many people miss out because they don’t know…

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).”

Appreciate truth because you’ve studied it, not inherited it.

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