Look, I believe in God, but church just isn’t for me…or so I thought. Let me explain. But first, who am I? I’m just like you; a person with goals and ambitions who’s trying to make the best out of the limited time that I have on this planet. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’m always willing to help whomever I can whenever I can. I just want to be a decent human being and enjoy a comfortable life. That, about, sums it up.
As a kid, my mother always said that I was very inquisitive. Things just had to make sense to me. I spent a lot of time asking the question “Why?” taking toys apart just to see how they worked, and watching informational and educational television. Don’t get it twisted. I knew when to ask “why?” and when to shut up thanks to my two older sisters and my older brother. My parents weren’t having that. That was one of the many benefits of being the youngest child. But, I digress.
The thing is…I’m just as inquisitive now as I was then. Only now, it’s much deeper. You see, then, I wanted to understand the world. Now, I want to understand me. I know who I am and what I want to do. What I’m trying to figure out is why I’m here?
Have you ever planned to go to the mall on a Saturday morning? I mean really. You had it all planned out. You woke up, brushed your teeth, got dressed, ate breakfast, worked out, showered, got gas for the week, planned to walk around a few stores, grab a few things, meet up with a few friends for a late lunch/early dinner because you’re trying the whole intermitted fasting thing since trying to go vegan turned you into the healthiest werewolf in the history of lies that you tried to tell yourself. You know damn well Thanksgiving was right around the corner. You should have waited for the New Year. Again, I digress. But, you arrive at the mall, get out of the car, and take a few steps. Then, BAM! Out of nowhere you get a whiff of some “oh my Lord Jesus, the flesh is weak. Get in my belly, right now! What is that smell? Where is it coming from? This wasn’t in my plans, but I gotta have it.”
Well, that’s where I am. I have the rest of my life planned out, my game face is on, the tunnel vision is tuned in, and I’m determined to execute. Just as things are starting to move along, I got my whiff. Only my whiff came in the form of a question. Why am I here? However, before I can answer that question, I had to acknowledge how I’m still here…because I shouldn’t be.
Let’s see. There was the time I was literally 30 feet away from the courtyard I was playing in 10 minutes before a neighborhood O.G. was shot and killed. There was the time I was playing football in my back alley. As I’m sprinting down the alley to catch a pass from my homie, a…person runs across my path. As I look to see who the person was running from, I hear two shots. There were two police officers in pursuit. As I hit a matrix-like turn to sprint in the opposite direction, as God as my witness, I see what looks like a bullet, as clear as day, curving around my head. Then, there was the time I was being young and unnecessarily impatient in a car that was stuck in 3rd gear trying to pass a semi-truck on a country back road in Hanover County, Virginia where I was either inches away from being pit maneuvered by one 18 wheeler or smacking head first into another. Not to mention the countless times in my early twenties where I can’t even remember how me or my car made it home safely after far too many drinks. Or the countless times that I’ve worked so long and hard that I can’t stay awake while driving home and it took a jersey barrier or rumble strip to wake me up. There are even moments where I avoided the living death; jail and/or prison. I’ve had to talk myself out of reckless driving tickets and DUI’s. I’ve even, this disappoints me still, sold illegal substances, only a few times, but to some risky characters, just so that I can say that I did it. Yeah, being inquisitive isn’t always a good thing.
Simply put, I shouldn’t be here right now. However, I am smart enough to know, thanks to my grandmother, for whom I am eternally grateful to for making me go to church as a kid, that it’s only by the grace of God and his plans for my life that I’m still breathing and free right now. Therefore, I have to find out why and what those plans are.
Proverbs 18:15 (NRSV) says
“An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
I’ve learned, throughout the years, that the best way to find out why something exists is to go directly to the source. So…I started reading the Bible. However, there’s a problem with reading the Bible on my own with the way that my mind works. My perception is dictated by my own life experiences. The things I’ve learned. The things I’ve been taught. The things I’ve come to understand. Inherently, my perception is biased. That’s not, in and of itself, a bad thing. That’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to me and my situation. However, my perception isn’t the only one that matters and my currently situation isn’t the only situation that I’ll ever go through. Therefore, it’s imperative that I gain perspective.
I imagine myself sitting on a sofa with two other people. The person on my left may call the sofa a chair, while the person on my right calls it a couch. A homeless person walks in and asks “Would you three be so kind as to let me sleep there for the rest of the night?” Is it now a bed? Aren’t we all talking about the same thing? Is anyone wrong for their perspective? I don’t think so. Do you?
Which, this leads me to the second problem that I have with reading the Bible on my own. The New Testament was written by Christians over the course of almost a century after Jesus’ death. There are four gospels that tell the same story, yet reflect very different ideas and concerns. The first wasn’t even written until 40 years after Jesus died. Not to mention all of the different versions and translations that exists. Yet they all had enough credibility to remain in the Bible/to be called a Bible. How do I know what to follow? Which Bible to pick? What interpretations to adhere to? All of them? None of them? Some of them?
Have you ever played that game of telephone or grapevine? The one where you and 30 or 40 people sit in a big circle? You start on one end with a sentence and each person whispers what they’ve just heard into their neighbor’s ear. It never fails. By the time the sentence is read aloud, it’s a far cry from what it was when it was first created. Yeah…that part!
So the question becomes, how can I figure out how to interpret what I’m reading when there are different perspectives in the Bible itself? Then, I came across 1 Corinthians chapter 12. The whole chapter is lit, but verses 7-11 (CEV) says
“The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit. To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God’s Spirit is present. Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean. But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.”
Trust me, read the whole chapter. It explains why we all need one another. And while you’re at it, read chapter 13 as well and find out how we can all work together and why trying to possess every gift isn’t really such a good idea.
Nevertheless, now, it all makes sense. If I want to know why I’m here, I have to do 3 things. Solidify my personal relationship with God, gain as many perspectives as I can by communing with other Christians, then rely on the Holy Spirit to help me interpret all of the information and obey God’s will.
Now, I understand why Church has become so important to me. I can feel what’s happening to me, but I couldn’t explain why, until now. No longer am I going to church to learn about Christ. I’m going to gain perspective. I’m going to be around people who, despite whatever trials they’re facing, they are joyful and thankful to be alive. Going to church overfills my cup with gratitude so that no matter how negative or draining my week is, it’s never enough to deplete my joy, because whatever or whomever the problem is…God’s got it for me. It’s a special kind of peace and it feels really good. When I think about it, God gave me peace. Therefore, I walk with poise and parity. God gave me peace. Therefore, I WALK with poise and parity. I’ll unpack THAT in a later video.
The icing on the cake is that, thanks to my phenomenal Pastor, I am thoroughly entertained, educated, and informed every time he preaches; providing even more perspective for the Holy Spirit and I to discern.
Finally, my desire to listen and gain wisdom in my quest to understand why I’m here is also what drove me to create this series. As I read and seek to understand the Bible, I want to share my thoughts as well as listen to yours. So please, don’t be shy. Leave a comment and let’s discuss the different topics. Let’s seek to benefit from one another’s perspectives so that we may all gain the wisdom and spiritual tools needed to navigate this often convoluted ordeal we call life. Don’t worry, I know it can get crazy in the comments sometimes, but the Holy Spirit will help you keep your mind on what is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. That’s scripture as well by the way.
I’m Kelvin Terrell. Thanks for listening and until next time…God gave me peace. Therefore, I walk with poise and parity. So should you. Bye now.