Lost in Translation

BY: GREG SEBELL

I was pretty much the poster boy for the “good Christian kid”. You know, the one everyone made fun of because he was literally too good for his own good. Yep. That was me. No fun. Annoying, but well-meaning. To be fair, I came by it honestly…

I was basically born on the front bench of my family’s country church in Northern British Columbia. My Dad was the youth pastor / music team leader. My grandparents were on staff at the church; Grandma was the teacher at our church’s school. My family was involved in church activities twice, sometimes three times each week. We only listened to music labeled “Christian” in our home for years, so it should come as no surprise that I was 20 when I discovered who Stevie Wonder was. #FacePalm

I was homeschooled until 11th grade. High school was a great experience for me, but it was also a bit of a culture shock because I literally didn’t have any friends prior who didn’t share my world view, my faith, or speak the way I did. I was the boy trapped in the bubble of Christian culture.

Looking back I can see that it shaped everything for me - some of it good, some not so much. The language I used, the opinions I had, the way I interpreted art…the way I connected with others. I didn’t really know how to relate to someone with a different journey than me.

Photo taken by @technopaul

Photo taken by @technopaul

Thankfully, a lot has changed in my life. Life is hard. Sh*t hits the fan. Sometimes (most times) you don't have all the answers. As deep rooted as my faith might have appeared, I quickly learned that a lot of it was in my head - not in my heart. I also learned that life is messy. It isn’t so cut and dry. Everything isn’t always black and white and everyone’s journey is different. It’s a process. And I believe God loves that process. He welcomes the questions and doubts with a big smile, because the Truth can defend itself. He’s not afraid of the messy, cloudy parts. He just wants to dig in with us and help us sort through it.

My former self might say I’m going to hell in a race car. But he didn’t have a lot of grace for himself - or anyone for that matter. His faith was largely based on performance - on the things he did or didn’t do. My former self needed to take a chill pill. He also needed to break out of his bubble and learn to relate to others - to use the language most of the world uses. He needed to learn to be okay to be raw and honest - even if it didn’t feel perfect and “Christian”, because life isn’t perfect. And the definition of being a “Christian” is not to have it all together. Rather, it is recognizing our need for help and a Saviour because we are all broken and we can’t fix it on our own.

Words are an incredible tool. With them we can literally speak life or death.

Heal or tear down.

Build a bridge or build a wall.

Let’s use our words to build bridges. To include, not alienate others. Let’s put away church-y jargon and express ourselves and our faith journeys in ways that are approachable and inclusive to everyone. You don’t have to change the message. Just the method. All it takes is a little more effort, some creativity and a desire to be selfless. Putting others first is core to who Jesus was. Let’s use our words to meet everyone else where they are at in their journey. Better yet, let’s focus on living lives that do the speaking for us.

Photo by @philipleclerc