Friday, October 5, 2012

Christianness

The word "Christian" comes with so much baggage these days, it makes me hesitant even to use it. I don't want to identify with an institution, a dogma, a culture. Mainstream evangelicalism has lost much of its meaning to me, although I was raised steeped in it. Even now, I think of a "Christian" as a clean-cut, conservative, happy, shiny person who always makes the right decision, marries a happy, shiny person, raises their happy, shiny kids, and gets family photos taken by LifeTouch.

But, when life doesn't make sense, when people are hurting, when choices aren't black and white, when pain and disability and abuse show up, that picture isn't enough any more. Little, snappy one-liner Bible verses written over a background of a pretty sunset aren't enough.

I chose Jesus when I was four. I knew what I was doing, and I have never changed my mind. He's a real person, a friend. I've studied the Bible and other writings extensively, and I know what He taught and did. That's the Jesus I claim as mine, and I am his. Jesus loved everyone and gravitated toward those who were honest, those who were needy. He had strong words for the overly religious who looked down on others not deemed as pure and worthy as themselves.

Rather than condemning those who were hurting, Jesus continually taught people that the important thing was the heart. That's the thing we people can't really see in each other. We don't know one another's motivations; we don't know the deep inner thoughts of another person. The best we can do is assume the best of others and never judge. The more I live this crazy life, the less apt I am to say that someone else is wrong, since it's simply not for me to decide.

I do believe in right and wrong and I believe that there is Truth. What I don't believe is a dogma of Truth, since even one "Bible-believing Christian" can't seem to agree with another on what the Bible says is true. Instead, I believe that Truth came in the form of a Person 2,000 years ago, a person who loved us enough to give his life for all of us fallen and hurting people. Truth spoken in love brings healing, not pain and separation.

That's the Truth that I want to live in my life. Although I know Jesus and follow him, I'd rather that people did not look to me to represent him. Too often Christians' failings are used as the reason to reject God. When Christians do something hideous, then God must not be good, if his followers can't do good. Deep down, I think people know better, but still, if people are looking for Jesus in me and they're disappointed, I wouldn't be surprised. Jesus is about a million times cooler than I am. It's the reason I don't like being preachy, or trying to evangelize. So many of the people that I love have been wounded by those identifying as "Christian" who might have good intentions but messed up, as we all do. I have been terribly wounded too.

I'm tired of Christians thinking we're right all the time, and overlooking the fact that we hurt each other. I'm tired of others looking at me as the "perfect good little Christian girl." I'm not perfect. I'm not even good. I hurt and struggle and I hurt others, even when my intentions are good. To anyone who has been hurt by Christians or by the Church, I'm sorry. It's not God's fault. Still, I can see how it feels like it is. A happy, shiny, perfect Christian is supposed to forgive any offense and move on with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, but reality doesn't work that way. Life is much more messy. People are much more complicated. I'm pretty sure God knows that and isn't too threatened by it.

Rather, I'll just report that I'm still madly, deeply in love with Jesus. As far as "Christian" means "little Christ," I'll use the term. I'm done with bending over backward to live by the rules that will make other Christians think I'm ok or will try to "help point the way to Jesus." I can't do that. The burden is too great. I can't represent Jesus and I can't pretend that I'm good enough. When I do that, I merely look stuck up and cold. Following a religion becomes oppressive; following Jesus is freeing. I'm ready to quit trying to please those who will never be pleased with me anyway and just live. I desperately need Jesus to fill my heart with his love, with his healing. I desperately need his grace. The happy, shiny Christian picture may not be enough, but Jesus is enough. I follow him because I love him. I believe what he taught because he loves me, and I'm convinced that he is worth listening to.

And that's about all I have to say about being a Christian.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I've been relating very much to this lately. Love you!

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  2. Oh yes. Living it. It's ALL grace.

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  3. I read this when you first shared your blog with me and that's when I knew we could be great friends! I love how you wrote this and your insight on faith.

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