The Honest Faith: Christianity 2.NO
I want to take a moment to talk about something I’m finding to be an alarming trend. This has a little to do with things I brought up 2 weeks ago with the unity, should have used the word harmony instead, post on kindness. Then there was last week when I talked about how to be kind. I’ve been active on the reddit boards recently, well when I’m bored that is. I’ve been noticing something that I thing also extends to the world outside. I’ve talked about a lot of this before, but it bears repeating. What was most disturbing to me yesterday was how divided christians (note: small c) were. There were a few attacks on denominations yesterday, mainly the evangelicals bad mouthing and demeaning mainline denominations. They started calling the mainline denominations un-christian because they “don’t call out the sins of society”. I, of course, being the person that can’t pass up a good opportunity to say ‘actually’ jumped in. Probably shouldn’t have done that, but when you are specifically pointing out my denomination and attacking the things that I think make my chosen denomination more Christ-like than a lot of other churches I have to say something.
So there I was jumping in as if I would be a denominational hero for jumping in and speaking up… To which I became a “so un-self-aware nit-wit” for pointing out that Jesus never told us to judge other people, and asking where He said that. To which they replied with a lot of New Testament Scripture. I retorted with asking them to stay on topic, as I asked for where Jesus said those things, not the new testament authors. Yet again, I was met with an ad-hominem fallacy stating that I was completely throwing out and not recognizing the divinity of the apostolic writings. I just replied with, if you wish to have an actual conversation I would recommend staying on topic. It devolved from there. Regardless, these were the things that make my denomination un-christian according to this person: accepting all people, feeding the homeless, not fighting against elective abortion, not telling atheists they are going to hell, loving and affirming LGTBQ+ individuals, fighting for social justice, in line with the Black Lives Matter movement, allowing women to become priests and pastors, and so on.
Okay, wait, what?!?
When did those things make a denomination un-christian? How did all of the mainline denominations get kicked out of the whole of christendom for doing those things? I mean, maybe I’m wrong, but don’t those things look pretty Christ-like? Isn’t that Jesus right there in all of those things? Am I taking crazy pills or is that the case? Seriously, I want to know if I’m way off base with that. That’s not the Jesus I know. I’m very positive about my image of Jesus, after all I just spent a few months working my way through the synoptic gospels to write the story in an understandable modern framework. But according to this redditor, I’m eisegeteing. But it’s not just me, it’s my entire denomination, and all of mainline denominations. I mean you can go back through my backlog of blogs here and read (or listen) to what I have to say about this. But, also, I’m taking my own advice. I’m asking, Am I wrong?
Okay, so I’m going to do some exegesis here. Let’s take all of those things and boil them down to their base parts. I am going to say the things that characterize all of those things would be faith*, hope, and love. (* remember my definition of faith is different from the modern colloquial definition.) I mean social justice movements are about that homesickness for a better world and actively working to make it a better place, right? Acceptance of all people has a base in hope that all can be in harmony with each other, right? Love… well we don’t need to define that do we? After all we have a nice passage written by a 1st century Christian that defines not just love, but that these three words define what the church should be about. But like I asked the poster to do yesterday, I’ll stay on topic. I remember Jesus standing up for the little guys, for the poor, the downtrodden, those who got the short end of the stick, but I also see there are some passages thrown into the synoptics and even John where Jesus doesn’t really act like that. There are some passages where he does promote violence, where he is racist, where he does promote the power systems of old. But can we rightly say that these define Him more than the ones of faith, love, and hope?
So where does Jesus fit into this modern Christianity? Is Jesus on either side of the divide between denominations? Is Jesus in the gap between? Would Jesus not really care, because he’s a Jew and honestly what is with this new religion? I think we’ve lost the plot completely. Maybe we’ve spent so much time trying to maintain these crumbling infrastructures of religion and forgotten what it was all about to begin with. Maybe it’s not about which denomination is right after all. Maybe it’s about getting rid of the denominations all together and starting fresh. Maybe the true Jesus can be found outside the small-c church buildings where the true Church has been working and striving away all along. It is a possibility, but I may be wrong.
To be honest, I would say that I, personally, am only loosely affiliated with a denomination at this point in time. To be honest I haven’t been to church in almost a year. I feel completely okay with that. Not that I don’t get the idea of church anymore. It is because I don’t feel as if it is helpful for me. I’m an introvert. I’ve been going to church my entire life. In fact, this stretch has been the longest I have ever gone without going to church. Now before you go off and tell me why I should be attending church, let me break this down for you. I’ve never felt myself at church. It took leaving and taking this extended time away from it to really discover that. I don’t want to go back, because I don’t want to be at a place where I can’t be myself. I don’t want to suffer abuse for being who I am. I did that for too long. I’m not going to hide anymore. I affiliate myself with this denomination, because they were the first in all of the denominations I’ve attending in my life, to accept me for who I am. They loved me to the core. To me, that is what Jesus looks like. That is Divine. To love someone despite all the flaws for who and what they are at the very core, is what God looks like to me.
So despite all of the petty squabbles of denomination against denomination, despite all of the who is a real christian and who isn’t, despite all of that hullabaloo I want to say this, IT DOESN’T MATTER! I think the real truth of the matter is what I feel the Divine looks like, a deep and unequivocal, unrestrained, no-strings attached, unflinching love. This love is unconditional. This love is for you just exactly for who you are. In that I see the message of Jesus. I see that he taught us to love like that. For that reason, and that reason alone I follow him. I don’t care if he was the messiah. I really don’t care if he was God or not. I don’t care about all of that doctrinal fluff, because that’s exactly what it is, fluff. Honestly when you get down to it, what does that gain us? What does doctrinal purity, or rightness gain us? Isn’t the work that which is important? Isn’t the job of following Jesus to love? Just that, love. I know, I know that’s over-simplistic drivel to most, but to me that’s all it is. I don’t know why we’ve decided that we have to over complicate it all.
Maybe I’m no longer Christian. If that’s the case, I’m fine with that. My religion is love. That is all that I’m ever going to be about. I’m going to love people. That means that I’m going to fight for justice. That means I’m going to resist hate. That means I’m going to make sure that everyone gets the same opportunities that I had and more. My religion is love. If that makes me unchristian so be it. I don’t want to be whatever it is that would define all of this as un-christ-like or not good. Because honestly, at the heart of love is all of these things isn’t it. It’s finding what the root of the problem is and working to fix it together. Isn’t love about seeing, accepting, and enjoying the other for who and what they are at their very core? Well, if it’s not then I’m way in left field. But maybe that doesn’t matter either. My religion is love. My mission and ministry is to tell the world that they are not alone, they matter. You, reader, are not alone. You matter.