We All Just Get Along?
I am convinced now more than ever, that in general, Christians are creating more hate than showing love. This is a bold statement, I know. I realize that I have put everyone that calls them self a Christian in this category. Let me just clarify that I am generalizing and my "box of Christians" is based solely on what I see and what I have experienced. Also, let me state that I have been in the group I am criticizing. One more thing - this group I am referring to shows no mercy to "fellow Christians" or non-believers alike. What have we done?
I know what it's like to want to do right in the eyes of God. I know that in attempting to do right in the eyes of God, I was rigid, judgmental, prideful, stubborn, and hateful. Except those characteristics were veiled - at least to me they were veiled. Of course anyone looking at me probably saw those things for what they were and not the way I saw them. No, I was not rigid, I was following rules set before me in the Bible. I was not judgmental, I just happened to see the sin (or non- sin as it turns out) in others (tsk, tsk, tsk!) and "pray for them. " I was not stubborn, I was just extremely clear as to what God said about certain things and adhered to them. I was not hateful, I just simply avoided people, things and issues that were ungodly.
That is what I saw of myself when I looked in the mirror. It makes me sick to my stomach to even remember that is who I was. This was at a time in my life when my husband and I were deeply involved in a (Christian) church and served as leaders on several levels. During this time, I learned more about God and Jesus than I ever had before. I was reading the Bible and praying daily. I experienced a deep and intimate relationship with God that was beautiful and even today I look back and long for some of those times (the relationship part). But somehow, with as close to God as I felt, I was too closed off to the world around me. I think, for me, this was somewhat necessary. I had shut God out for so many years, lived an ugly life filled with so many regrets, I think I needed to close the door slightly on the outside. I think I took it a bit too far, (I slammed that door, locked it, dead-bolted it threw away the key) but for me it was necessary to cut out things that were stumbling blocks for me. A diet of sorts. I had to... for my health, I had to.
So, in surrounding myself with "Christian music" and cutting out all secular music, in putting restrictions on films, books, television and most art, I also seemed to judge (without really knowing I was doing it) everyone and everything that I deemed "unchristian." Things I felt were not good for me to put into my body, I also determined they were not good for others to put into their bodies. That is how the judgment began, the pride crept in, the stubbornness grew and the hate bubbled up.
This, I think, is how it begins for most "Christians" - we are simply attempting to live a life pleasing to God. I never thought I was any of those negative things. I never thought I was without love. I loved people. I loved my family and friends. I served others. I was empathetic to the hurting - but I could only see what I allowed in front of my eyes and if I was exposed to something I didn't agree with the love had conditions, the service ceased, the empathy turned to apathy. It is only now that I see this.
But I have been exposed! Exposed to the real love of Christ, shown by people who look "odd" and act differently - the "not quite right." These people I once condemned for not being "Christian" enough. These people who love Jesus but show it in an odd way - a different way than what the world is used to seeing. These people believe as I do, that Jesus is the Son of God who died as a sacrifice in our place so we may have a relationship with God and ultimately so we may live in His Kingdom, and believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. These people love unselfishly, give of themselves and serve everyone. These people hang out with Christians and non-Christians (as Jesus did, by the way). These people have hopes, dreams and passions that may or may not involve employment at a church or Christian organization. These people long to build meaningful relationships and friendships. These people are not afraid to share their pain and struggles in a real way. These people are not afraid to talk about how screwed up they are or the mistakes they've made or continue to make. These people are not afraid to tell you that everything may not turn out okay, that life sucks sometimes and it's hard, unfair and sad. These people will also tell you of a Hope that keeps them going and makes life worth living. These people show just as much excitement about living life now, here on earth, as they do about their eternal destination. These people live life in this world without blinders on. These people can live in the world but be unlike everyone else. These people listen with Love in their hearts. These people have a mission. A mission to love as Christ loved while He was here on earth and as He loves us still. These people will show you that the Love grows inside, breaking down the rigidity, judgment, hate, pride and stubbornness. These people are not perfect, yet strive to be like the Perfect One.
I am sorry I judged you, hated you, was prideful and stubborn. I have a million regrets. I am by no means perfect or even "cured" of those things, but I have seen and experienced a different kind of Love that makes me odd, different and "not quite right" and I am determined to live it out. God help me.