The Honest Faith: Annoying Christianity

For this post, I invite you to take a step back. Don’t consider yourself Christian. Don’t consider yourself anything. Take a step back from your life. Let go of all your tightly held beliefs and just be. Read with an open mind. Don’t take offense, because what will be said isn’t about you. You aren’t these things. You can look back on things that the person who was you did and examine them through this lens, however, you aren’t that person anymore. What you do moving forward is completely up to you. You are the one who decides what to do with the time that is given to you moving forward. With all of that being said, I’m about to talk about some rather controversial things. I know I said I would try to stay away from these, but I can’t remain silent any longer. So breathe. Sit. Take a moment. Then read on.

This week I saw another Christian Blogger post an article about the 4 reasons people find Christians annoying. Look beyond the pop-up there, on the list of things I find annoying about bloggers. So I was inspired to ask my facebook friends the same question he asked, “What do you find the most annoying about Christians?”. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, this was one of the most responded to posts on my wall in the last few months. I got a wide variety of answers to the question, but I was struck by an overwhelming thought. Christians are annoying. The truth of the matter is, whether you claim to be one or not, the idea of Christianity has become so overwhelmed by this sickeningly sweet saccharine message that has nothing to do with the true gospel anymore that nobody wants it. Christianity has become that gross Halloween candy that nobody really wants, yet gets handed out every year and sits at the bottom of bags and buckets until you are getting ready for the next round of Trick-or-Treating. It ends up being tried and spit out immediately, or just tossed in the trash altogether.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some great churches out there doing some amazing things. I’m saying in general Christianity has gotten painted with the annoying brush. Somewhere along the way in our cracks and divisions a new message took root and sprouted up. One that demanded more attention, and drove the divisions even deeper. It was a message of power, wealth, and appearances. Christianity, somewhere along the line, went from a group of outcasts, nobodies, losers, sinners, gluttons, drunkards, prostitutes, and scum to Stepford wife. Honestly, take a step back and look. Is this not true?

It’s no wonder people are leaving the church. It’s no wonder that this message of perfection is turning people off. It is not obtainable. When you have those who profess to be christian (Small c on purpose) and saying all kinds of nonsense is ordained by god, or that god favors ‘fire and fury’, people don’t want to have anything to do with that god. That is not the Divine of the Christian Bible. That is not the Divine of any major world religion. That is some odd image of Ares (Greek god of war) or something. When did we begin to worship morality, being right, being superior, holier than thou, or even this book we claim is the “WORD OF GOD”. I’m sorry, but it is a book. It was written by human beings in a certain time, to a certain people, and the language used to write most of it isn’t even spoken anymore. The Word that is talked about in that book is Jesus, the God-man. Not the book itself. It’s no wonder people see Christians as morons, we can’t even read our book right.

To be perfectly Honest, for a long time I’ve felt this way. I even worked for the church. But I couldn’t stand the platitudes we threw around at each other. I couldn’t stand Christian book stores, a whole other story for another day. I would feel nauseous when I had to say something like ask Jesus into your heart, or have a relationship with him. Because those phrases have become so over used, they are completely devoid of meaning anymore. A true and honest relationship with the Divine comes not from buying a cross with an American flag emblazoned on it, sorry I just threw up a little. A true relationship with the Divine does not come about by being a good American even. (seriously who thinks that?) Or any number of things that don’t make any sense whatsoever when you hold them up to the real Gospel.

I was going to write about how Christians can be less annoying. But there is a part of me that feels that modern christianity (notice the small c) is beyond repair. As I took a step back myself I noticed there was a lot of this prevalent in our culture. We haven’t been counter culture since the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe it was the moment that the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion. Maybe it was even back before that. Maybe when we started dictating culture rather than living our lives, maybe that is when we lost our way. But, when it comes right down to it, there is hope. I have seen some truly remarkable things done in the name of the true Divine. I have seen people stand up and say, “No, God does not hate anybody. God loves EVERY-ONE!” I have seen the true Gospel being lived out. Most of the time I’ve seen it, I saw it outside the doors of a church.

Really, I could rant and rave for a long time about what is wrong with modern christianity. I could, but I won’t. Because you know the problems too. You’ve seen them yourself. Sometimes you deny it. Most of the time you just accept it, because what can you do really? Some of you have left the church over those things, if you have I want you to know you aren’t alone, and I’d love to hear your story and support you. I know that you still want to follow Jesus. You still love that there was this man who did speak out against political powers, and religious leaders of His day. Maybe you feel powerless to do anything about it, but the truth is the only power that people have over you is the power you give to them.

True Christianity isn’t dying, but it certainly has a brand problem. The hospital for the spiritually infirmed needs a new PR person. This word Christianity among the populous is now more synonymous with Hypocrite, judge-y, and annoying than the true gospel message. The true message, in case you forgot, is that God loves everyone no matter what. That doesn’t mean just the perfect, morally upstanding, rich, or whatever. It means EVERYONE. You, me, the guy on the corner, that one crazy guy on tv that says god caused natural disasters for some reason or another, the gay person at work, the trans person that you don’t understand, the one lady who needs to pull her life together, that one person who is yelling at the customer service rep for some silly reason, and on and on. GOD LOVES EVERYONE. There is no exception.

The moment we start locking the doors to Heaven, because of one reason or another, is the moment we started worshiping idols. The moment we stopped helping people is the moment we became annoying and hurtful. The message is about love, kindness, and acceptance for all people. Not just the lovely, rich, clean, or whatever. So the take away from this today is to take a good hard look at ourselves, and ask are we living the true Gospel? Or would we rather hold on to our hate for the other? Are we loving all people as God loves them? Or are we bent on revenge that isn’t rightfully ours anyway? Are we annoying, or helpful? True Christianity isn’t dying, it’s always been there in the dirt with the filth getting it’s hands dirty helping all people. So if you feel alone because of the fake ones, don’t. You are not alone. You matter!

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34 Replies to “The Honest Faith: Annoying Christianity”

  1. Pedantic moment: “populous” is an adjective. The noun you want is “populace,” which sounds exactly the same.

    Other than that, a resounding AMEN. I am one of those who left the organized Christian church in despair. I could no longer manage the hatred, bigotry, and outright fear that I was witnessing every day. I had been a member of the congregation for 36 years, and knew for all of that time that they were more conservative than I was. But that was okay, I was going to be a force for change from the inside!

    When the Presbyterian General Assembly made the decision that it was okay to ordain LGBT (and hallelujah for that day, amen), the wheels came right off in that congregation. The facade was stripped off, and suddenly people felt free to start tossing around “abomination”. I realized that I hadn’t been so much a force for change as I was their token of liberality. I was their LGBT-affirming friend.

    They voted to leave PC-USA. I spoke out vigorously against it in the meeting, where I was one of 3 votes against the split – over 100 others there were perfectly happy to stand in their own fear and hatred.

    I walked out of the church that day and have not set foot in the building since. There are people in that congregation who still will not speak to me. I will not make assumptions about the quality of their faith. It is not mine to judge. But I do know my own limits, and Christianity in that form is something I can no longer be part of.

    I was married there, and said my last farewells to my late husband there. I miss the illusion of what I thought I had in that church. But I don’t miss the actuality.

    1. Thank you for the correction. I spelled it wrong and that is the one the spellchecker gave me. I’m still working on those. Thank you for the story! I was in the PCUSA for a long time. I know what you mean.

    2. I just want to applaud the bravery it took to do this. I’m in a similar struggle now and hope to find the strength you have to make a final move. Thanks for sharing!

    3. I can relate. It was late in my life when I was recaptivated by a forward thinking/acting church. Progressive theology is endlessly interesting and stimulating. Now if we could just settle once and for all the stupid rules of the worldwide United Methodist Church, I could be completely in love. Backward and awful. We as a church are trying now to become a “reconciling church”. At least that is an option. And a deep hope. Pastors now have to do marriages “secretly ” and risk losing their ministries, or refuse to do them and “risk losing their integrity”. It is just a stupid situation.

  2. thnx! Same here in Holland/Europe. It’s a global issue. I m mostly ashamed to call myself a Christian because people around me associate that directly with the curch.
    We need new PR indeed 🙂 Lets start with ourselves.

  3. I have no problem with the example of how to live and be in the world as set forth by Jesus. I also believe the Buddha set forth an even more spiritual example of how to know inner peace.
    I do NOT, however, endow any person with God like qualities, nor do I buy any of the stories of divinity and “miracles” set forth in the bible.
    Remember…..Jesus Christ was NOT a christian, Buddha was NOT a buddhist. All of these sects are mere inventions of men seeking answers to the unanswerable.
    Lynn Barry

  4. Jesus loves and would die again for His church, even in its imperfect state, so I will stand with her and show the way of Life so others may see it, hunger for it again, abandon living by works in abandonment to the true living God, and be part of the solution. When a family is broken it needs healing and restoration, not abandonment. We all know that, and the church is no different.

    1. I tried to be there for healing and restoration. They had no interest and deeply hurt me and those I love. I don’t think we are required to set ourselves on fire to keep others warm.

    2. All that may be true Terri. Unfortunately for those who are different, especially LGBT persons, the church is not at all accepting at best, and outright hateful and abusive at worst. There are statistically very few exceptions. The church most aligned with what Jesus taught does not exist in mainstream Christianity today.

  5. Right now people are using God as a mockery. The Christian right and those who follow them are making God a joke. He is not a joke. He doe’s not approve of denying some people of their right’s. He doe’s not approve of letting children starve and the rich get richer. He doe’s not approve of taking medical care away from people who need it so badly. He doe’s not approve of senior citizen’s being denied food. He doe’s not approve of dictatorship. He doe’s not approve of the hate that is showing by so many “christian’s”. Study Jesus for a while, see if you can face him in the mirror each morning. Try walking in his footstep’s for a while. I have many faults and I ask God for help everyday to help me with them. We are failing so much and losing our selve’s by not seeing our own wrong’s. Just try to love your neighbor and put other’s first for a change. Talk to God, don’t talk about him so much. It work’s better that way.

  6. Thank you so much for so eliquently stating how I have felt for many years!

    I attended two churches in my childhood. The first was like family… Until the “preacher” (notice small p and quotes here) began showing up to service completely sloshed and using racial slurs behind the pulpit.

    We moved on to another church that had a wonderful reputation for being filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit. The pastor was young (by most standards, he was in his mid thirties) but full of the holy fire. I was diagnosed as a diabetic at four years of age, and at eight years old my parents were bound and determined to have this miracle worker lay hands on me and pray that I would be cured.

    As he tried to do so, I had a major melt down. Started kicking and screaming, asking my parents not to let him touch me. I didn’t like him one bit. Years later I knew why. Let’s just say that the Catholic Church isn’t the only one with people who use their positions to do bad things.

    I have not set foot in a brick and mortar church since. I find worship in the world that God created for us.

    I have been told by many “Christians” that I am not one because I support LGBTQ rights, I don’t go to church, and I love everyone no matter their skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference. I just love.

    I have always felt that if a person is good, not perfect, but genuinely strives to be a good person, than God will open his arms and welcome them in.

  7. “True Christianity isn’t dying, but it certainly has a brand problem. The hospital for the spiritually infirmed needs a new PR person. ”

    Yes, but I assert the ‘new PR person’ is Jesus himself. I find myself telling U.S. evangelicals they might want to read the red words.

    I also refuse to refer to the christians as ‘American’, as if the U.S. is the only country in the Americas.

  8. I’ve been thinking about something similar lately. I believe the Bible teaches faith alone in Christ as the initial starting point of Christianity and how you get eternal life. Many churches believe this and members have eternal life. Many don’t and think you still need to do something, or be good enough to find God favor. That doing is that your talking about. But in my church life looking back there’s faith alone, but now how do I walk? My answer was do. Do go to church, do missions, don’t smoke pot, don’t drink much etc, and that’s how I think I was annoying. I’m now leaning to Galatians 5 with the Christian walk. Walk with the spirit. Many churches take the abstinence pledge for example. It’s GOOD… But i think you’re coming from the wrong angle and appearing annoying. I think if you’d walk with the Spirit, it’ll take care of all those good things your trying to do and you won’t be annoying. Be not drunk with wine which is excess but be filled with the holy Spirit. I’ve always took that as a verse that tells me not to get drunk. Now I’m wondering if it means the holy Spirit will truly fill you, in a way alcohol cannot. And fill you in a way other things including a pledge to abstinence cannot. Long short, I agree with annoyance whole heartedly, am guilty of being annoying… Is the answer in Galatians 5? Walk with the sprit and you won’t fulfill the (annoying) lust of the flesh. Adultery, selfish ambitions… Jealousies… Envy… The proud annoying Christians are the ones that walk by law. Lest any man should boast… Just a thought I’m meditating on right now as I’ve also found mainstream Christianity annoying.

    1. I think the point is not to be concerned about that stuff at all. I think it is to treat all with love, kindness, and acceptance. There is a lot of nuance in those, but those three are key.

  9. Hey Miguel, Bryan here. I’m the blogger who wrote the post you linked to about 4 ways Christians can be annoying. (Thanks!) After reading your post, and your ‘about’ page, I’d like to thank you for being so honest and transparent.

    I’m sorry for the ways that you, and many of your readers, have had bad experiences with the organized church. I know that I have often been – and still am – part of the problem.

    I agree that we certainly should be wary of people who are hateful toward us. Showing grace definitely doesn’t mean we subject ourselves to people, even those who identify with Christ, in a way that puts us at risk of abuse.

    After a few rough church experiences myself, I was challenged by a pastor who reminded me that ‘we need to love the church where it’s at’. In other words, to love annoying people as Christ has loved us. When we do this (wisely), it shows that we believe that, despite all appearances to the contrary, God ‘is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20).

    Thanks again, Miguel, for your honest writing and sharing your journey with us. I pray that we live to see the day when the church looks more like Christ wants it to.

    1. Thanks Bryan! I liked your article as well, obviously, and am planning on a follow-up this week. You are correct that we need to love it where it’s at, but we can’t leave it there. After 13 years of trying I needed to take a step back and look at the outside perspective. I’m glad you liked my writing as well, honestly that’s a huge compliment to me!

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