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FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH IN DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON NC
  • Writer's pictureRev. Barrett Owen

My Evolving Faith Journey

Faith evolves. As we grow in our relationship with Christ and take seriously the good news of scripture, our faith should expand.


Remaining spiritually stagnant seems oxymoronic when you read phrases like, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a) or “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12b)


Having been on a spiritual quest for decades now, I can look back and see significant shock points in how and when my faith evolved. I can even pinpoint (somewhat, it’s not an exact science) lessons learned during these seasons. Here are three. 


These quotes are only meant to illustrate an entire season in which my faith evolved, and when I felt the Spirit doing a new thing in me. I am not suggesting they are an exhaustive list or should be yours.


       1. “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that

God hates all the same people you do.” - Anne Lamott


In college, I was confronted with the fact that I had (inadvertently) let my childhood culture define God for me. I was taught to believe God hated a lot of people, and this bias was not allowed to be critiqued. I was blindly creating God in my own image. When I learned to see in this way, my faith expanded into a new level of love.


       2. “Spirituality is always about changing yourself and never about changing others.”

- Richard Rohr


I used to believe my Christian duty was to convince and correct. Christian apologetics taught me to insert my opinions into pretty much any conversation ever. This way of life built the delusion that God needed me to protect the faith. I superimposed overconfidence as a form of godlike clarity and made others listen to my half-baked ideas of faith. 


I have since learned my spirituality should be about changing me, not others, and I still have inner work to do. My individual, spiritual quest now examines and seeks to transform what I am processing in my own soul so I can move myself into a deeper relationship with God.


       3. “Hurt people hurt people.” - Unknown 


We all carry pain. It may be in the form of physical pain or the heavier, emotional pain of regret, shame, and fear, and we all have it and do it. 


If we are fortunate to have cultivated healthy, spiritual practices that allow us to notice and name our triggers, notice where they come from, and then have a supportive community helping us not to feel buried by them, then we can live somewhat comfortably while managing.  


If we do not have this, though, the hurt festers until it explodes. Sometimes it comes in the form of self-harm, but often it gets catapulted onto others.


I have unconsciously hurt people, and I am ashamed about it. I did it because I felt threatened. My inner critic filtered that hurt and colored the way I thought about others in order to protect myself. And I now know why I need healthy, spiritual practices and a loving supportive community: So my hurt does not hurt others, and their hurt does not hurt me.


These three seasons have shaped how I now love God and others. I believe as Christians we are all called to grow towards (and more like) Christ, and it is never too late to start. This spiritual pursuit is holy, and it takes a lifetime. In no way do I think I am done. I (we) have more growing to do. 


Rev. Barrett Owen | Senior Pastor

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