The Ground Upon Which I Stand
When I was in my early 20's, I became a Christian. My conversion occurred apart from any church or evangelistic activity. Quite the contrary, it happened while I was on the road playing in bars as a member of a heavy metal band. I had been raised in a non-religious home and prior to becoming a Christian--as well as for some time afterwards--I knew almost nothing about Christianity. I barely knew who Jesus was as a historical figure: some guy who the Romans crucified and for which I was supposed to feel guilty for some inexplicable reason. I had no awareness of my state as a sinner or my need for a savior.
Yet, despite all of that, God initiated a series of encounters with me. God came to me not with flaming portents of wrath and dire warnings to repent, but rather as a kind, patient voice in the quiet of the night.
In the same way that a building's shape is determined by its foundation, these early experiences with God have shaped all of my subsequent theology. Despite my unbounded doctrinal ignorance and lifestyle of utter depravity, God came to me in love and kindness.
It was loving-kindness that changed me and it is loving-kindness which has ever since been the ground upon which I stand.
As I began to read the Gospels and learn about Jesus, I recognized that same loving, kind, patient, compassionate personality that had reached out to me.
In subsequent years I have been shunned and dis-fellowshipped from churches--a casualty of political power-plays. I have had brothers and sisters in the faith break off fellowship with me because of doctrinal differences. I once lost my home and business and credit-worthiness to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Through all of these trials, God's presence has remained--especially if I choose to dwell in that quiet place where I can feel and hear God. It is during those times in my life when everything else has been stripped away that I have invariably become more aware of God's presence. It is a constant, quiet, unshakable presence. It is the ground upon which I stand.
In the 30-odd years (some of them very odd years!) since I became a follower of Jesus, I have sometimes felt led by God to re-evaluate my doctrinal views on various topics ranging from Eschatology (the End Times) to Hell to Homosexuality to Biblical Inerrancy. This has often been personally challenging; to step out of my comfort zone and ask difficult questions; to intentionally deconstruct and examine my beliefs. What has given me the courage to do it is that when I strip everything down to the ground, what remains is God's presence. Nothing can threaten that. Nothing can take that from me.
This foundation has also shaped my understanding of how God sees people in general and, therefore, how I should see people. God's default position towards humankind is not anger, wrath and separation. Men and women are surely alienated from themselves, from one another and from God--but God is constantly reaching out to us all; calling us home. God is not freaked out by our sin or deterred by our doctrinal shortcomings. God will not ultimately be thwarted by our ignorance. As Philip Yancey once wrote, "There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There is nothing you can do to make God love you less." This is because God's love is perfect and, ultimately, it's not about us--it's about God. And, as the Apostle John wrote, God is love.
Accept that. Embrace it. Surrender to it. Let it soak into your being. Let it become the ground upon which you stand.