You Don't Inspire Me

Mistaking "Christian" for "inspirational" makes those with their own aspirations feel like apostates.

If you post a Bible verse on Facebook I won't like it. If you buy me a devotional I won't read it. If you pay for me to attend a Christian conference I won't go. Maybe it's time I admitted it: I'm a terrible Christian.

I just don't like most of the things Christians like. I don't listen to Christian music or watch Christian movies. I wish I could enjoy church yet there was a time when I left the church. I hate sermons and I often find myself asking, what if I don't want my faith? So perhaps I need to give up on this religion that doesn't want me. More to the point, perhaps I should give up on this religion whose people don't want me.

It's hard to be a part of a community that finds you frustrating, but I can't live the way many other Christians do. Unlike them, I think that the Bible doesn't have all the answers and I think that prayers don't need answers because, in my mind, giving answers is like buying a kid a Lego set and putting it together for him. When I was that kid, I had more fun building than playing. And to this day, I still have no interest in being inspired.

All of those things, from Bible verse memes and clever acrostics to worship music and devotionals, are what I would categorize as inspirational. Inspirational Christianity is a subculture of the faith designed to lead the believer into a deeper relationship with Christ. While it's not meant to replace discipleship, it shares the same goal making it hard to distinguish. But when the inspirational is conflated with discipleship, it labels the uninspired as rebellious.

With so much diversity in the world, we can't expect everyone to grow closer to God the same way.

Some people want to be motivated--to be inspired. To them, being discipled means having a personal trainer, a specialized diet and a Jillian Michaels poster. They fear a saggy spirituality so they build their lives around routines and reminders that aren't just decorative; they regularly check their wrists and ask, "What would Jesus do?"

When a person like this encounters someone like me, they must think that I'd make a great candidate for The Biggest Loser. Because, compared to them, I'm neither disciplined nor dedicated. And if I care so little about being discipled, it's tempting to think that I might not really be saved at all.

What they don't realize is that I don't want to be inspired because I'm already aspiring to my own things. After ten years of classical training, I quit piano lessons because I was sick of playing music written by dead guys. I didn't see the point of playing if it wasn't my own work, so I started writing music.

People like me don't want a personal trainer as much as a workout partner, or better, a sparring partner. We don't want books filled with other people's ideas; we want conversations that help us develop our own. And we don't fear getting soft as much as being dismissed. To us, answers only lead to more questions and we're ok with that because we enjoy the journey more than the destination. Thus, discipleship means being mentored by someone who's ok with that too and willing to journey with us.

As odd as it sounds, some people do grow closer to God by questioning him. We're the creatives, the skeptics, the critics, and the misfit toys that have yet to find a place in the larger Christian subculture. And as much as we may produce some cognitive dissonance in your own experience, I'd encourage you to humor us sometime. You might be surprised how much you can learn from someone who isn't interested in answers. Or how much we're willing learn from you when you're not busy trying to inspire us.

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Photo credit: Garen M. via / CC BY-NC