I Am (not) A Christian
Confession: I don’t know if I am Christian anymore.
The word Christian has gotten such a bad rep that it is hard if not impossible for a thinking, feeling, and compassionate human beings to call one by that label. This word Christian I fear has lost all its meaning. No longer do Christians want to follow the example of Jesus the rabbi of love and grace.
Some Christians would rather protect their wealth, start wars, overturn healthcare reform, control women and exclude people from the love and grace of God. Some Christians advocating harming people they disagree with, they have called for violence towards others. Some Christians use the bible as a weapon to bash people with than using it as mirror to illumine their own shortcomings. Some call the bible brief instructions before leaving Earth. This is to demean the holy book for in the end we don’t leave earth but God makes his home on earth. In the final book of the bible it says that God will dwell with his people. Some Christians wish to escape this world for some far off celestial garden. Some Christians are more known for their self-righteousness than for loving everyone. Some Christians make Jesus out to be a king with a sword than Servant-Savior-King. Some Christians are more worried about the status quo than doing justice and mercy.
If I must be like Kirk Cameron, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Rick Santorum, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Driscoll, John Piper than I cannot and will not count myself as a Christian. If I am must scream at people ‘you’re going to hell ‘than I cannot be a Christian. If I must put law before grace, punishment before acceptance, exclusion before inclusion than I cannot be a Christian.
Peter Rollins in a YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiG-nlDVvYM) refers to an exit parable.
A man dies go to Heaven. The pearly gates are thrown open to welcome him in. Behind him are his friends and as he is about to set foot in Heaven, he asks what about my friends. Peter says you know the rules. The man then thought of his reference point: Jesus the outsider, Jesus the drunkard, Jesus the bastard, the friend of sinners. Jesus the one who would always stay with those who were oppressed. Then, the man said he would just stay out there with them. The parable ends with Peter breaking out with a huge smile; at last, you understand. That God so loved the World he forsook Heaven.
God is always here in the service of the now. You cannot find God in the past in your regrets or pain and you cannot find God in the future in your hopes and wishes. You can only find God in the here and now. God is here wooing you to entering his loving presence and now that no matter how dark, how hard, how tough life gets He will be with you always. We are not called to police other people, to cause conflict, to separate ourselves from the messy broken life, and are not to put up barriers between people, all people and the love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ. We are to throw open wide our hearts and welcome all people into the grace and love of Christ.
Gandhi who liked Christ, but not Christians claimed that if Christians began to act as Christ than the whole world would be converted to Christianity overnight. He made the Sermon on the Mount his guiding rule. Just consider—it matters as much if not more how you live your life and treat others than what you believe or what doctrines you assert. All the correct beliefs will get you nowhere if you do not love—after all is that not the new commandment that Jesus gave us?
If I must step out of Christianity in order to follow Jesus, I will. If I must drop the label Christian in order to affirm the resurrection, I will. If I must be called a heretic in order to live a consecrated life with divine love I will. If I must be an outsider, excluded from the church, so be it. I cast my lot with Jesus come what will. Jesus called me to come and die. And I responded here I am.
If I can follow in the footsteps of St. Francis, Saint Therese of Lisieux, C.S. Lewis, Peter Rollins, Rob Bell, NT Wright, Tony Campolo, Jay Bakker, Gregory Boyd, Desmond Tutu, Fred Rogers, Frederick Buechner than I can and will count myself as a Christian.
I am a Christian because I see in Jesus God. I want to live my life in the shadow of Jesus. When I read the Bible there are times when I say yes and my soul leaps for joy, there are other times when I am pushed and challenged, poked and prodded, I want to shrink away, but Jesus grabs me and holds me. I know these are the very things I need to hear and study to better live my faith. I am not perfect. I don’t have it all together and never will. There are times that I surprise myself, I usually disappoint myself. I am not as loving, selfless, or gracious as I should be. I have hurt people. I have regrets. I have made mistakes. I need a savior. Not only do I need Jesus, I need you, I need friends and fellow Christians to guide me on my journey. I am not so full of myself to think I could ever do it on my own.
I chose the way of Jesus not because I’m saved, but because I go astray. When I say, “I am a Christian” I don’t speak with arrogance. I’m confessing my wrongs that I need a Savior. I’m not strong, but profess my weakness and pray daily for the ability to carry on to be better than I used to be. I’m not bragging, but admitting I have sinned and cannot ever repay the debt. I don’t claim to have it altogether, my flaws are too visible, but God loves me anyway, God loves me in spite of me, but loves too much to let me stay that way. I do not wish to judge or point fingers. I only know I’m loved. I want to point others to the love of God in Christ Jesus.
That is why I am a Christian.
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