I was going to respond to the Rick Perry commercial, but many people have already, so I would like just say that I am not ashamed of being a Christian. I am troubled by some of those who claim to follow the same Lord and Savior that I do.
I would like to say a few words about why I am troubled about calling myself a Christian, accepting the label evangelical and why I denounce religion in all forms.
This will be personal, so you might not want to read on. These are my thoughts and may not be shared by anyone else. As always if my words help good, if not ignore them and go on your way. If you would like to add to the conversation then do so.
A Christian is not someone who sits in a pew on Sunday claiming to worship Jesus and then spending the rest of the week however they want to; a Christian does not point fingers at others, excluding and hating gays, women, those of other or no faith, abortion doctors, liberals, and others who don’t share our viewpoint. A Christian doesn’t have to belong to the Republican Party or be conservative or want lower taxes for the rich and raise the taxes on the middle and lower classes. A Christian does not do violence or wage war or are overly concerned about how others live their lives. A Christian loves the unlovable, forgives the unforgiveable, accepts the unacceptable, and includes the excluded. A Christian always shows the love of God found in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior using words only when necessary. I don’t always do this, so in some instances, I am not a Christian, other times I am. If I could always live as a Christian than I wouldn’t need a Savior, but I stumble and sometimes fall flat on my face, so I do need a Savior.
Christianity is not about a religion or the church, but a person, namely Jesus Christ.
My problem with the label evangelical is due to all the awful, twisted, intolerant ways evangelicals are seen today. That word along with the word Christian have been mishandled and over used in our world. In a basic sense an evangelical is someone who accepts and proclaims Jesus Lord and Savior of all and takes the bible as authoritative and seriously. Too often and wrongly, it is seen that claiming Jesus Lord and Savior is seen as a burden, anti-intellectual, and unloving, but it’s quite the opposite. Some think that to take the bible serious is to take all of it literal, but those two don’t necessarily go together and can be quite opposite.
When I claim and proclaim Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of all I am saying that Jesus teaches me what it means to be human and fully live this life and in the present. I point others to him because he is the best teacher of life, how to treat others and live in community. I point others to Jesus because is yoke is easy and he offers to all unlimited and unconditional love and grace. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, conservative, or religious. He accepts us as we are, but doesn’t let us stay that way.
Jesus said the Great Commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The bible doesn’t always make sense, can be challenging, and informs us about life, faith, and God, and what is most important. The study of the bible is a life-long and fruitful adventure, something each of us should undertake attempting to not read anything into the text, but take it as it is written. I try to read the bible and apply it to my life. I encourage everyone to do the same. Don’t worry about coming to an orthodox interpretation, but seek to see what God is trying to tell us through the text.
I don’t call myself religious, because the false notion behind religion is that doing all the things religion tells us to do will save us, help us live life to the fullest, or grant us anything. Only following Jesus and accepting his grace will save us, help us live life to the fullest. All religion is a lie if it tells us that we can earn our salvation. All religion is a lie if it tells us we have control over our life. All religion is a lie if it says it can lead to eternal life.
Jesus promises all of that and fulfills those promises.
Just because you say you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean you follow Jesus and live how he wants us to live.
So, in the end if following Jesus and taking the bible seriously means I am an Evangelical Christian than that’s what I am.
However, I am not a close-minded, hateful, and intolerant. I am not a republican. I advocate raising the taxes on the rich and balancing the budget, getting America back to work, and taking care of our needy brothers and sisters especially this time of year.
I say a Christian loves the unlovable, forgives the unforgiveable, accepts the unacceptable, and includes the excluded.
A Christian always shows the love of God found in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior using words only when necessary.
I try to live that out in my life everyday and in every way.
I hope this helps.
Have a good day and try to live your faith, not just talk about it.
James 2, NIV: Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Thich Nhat Hanh: The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Deuteronomy 30:19, The Message: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him.
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