Today I read a blog which I regularly follow. It touched me and made me think. I want to share some of my own thoughts with you using her words as a springboard.
She asked the question “Why am I still a Christian… despite… well, despite everything? If we were to take everything negative… everything that should drive us screaming from the church… would we still be a Christian?
Why am I still a Christian when a mega-star pastor can affirm an admitted pedophile but seeks to disgrace this man’s former wife when she rightly petitions the state to annul a marriage that was fraudulent from the beginning?
Because I know that on this day, a bundle of nobodies made sure that the hungry homeless were fed a hot and nourishing meal and asked nothing in return.
Why am I still a Christian when a fame-blinded prosperity pastor tells his flock, many likely living on a bare edge, to each give $300 so he can have a $60,000,000 airplane?
Because I know the woman whose thankless job means she spends her days raising funds so that children have a safe and properly equipped public park where they may play and explore.
Why am I still a Christian when daily I see theologians and pastors tell those who don’t fix their definition of sexual “rightness” that they are less worthy in the eyes of God and will suffer eternal torment if they don’t get it right?
Because I know the pastors and people who toil quietly to bind up those wounds and pour healing balm on the battered hearts and torn faith of the despised and denigrated.
Yet even as I affirm I am still a Christian, I am aware of a large body of those who also call themselves “Christian” who would not admit me to their table. I had a long conversation with a good man who is a leader in one of the neo-calvinist, fast growing churches. After I pressed him on the issue, he finally admitted that I am not welcome to participate in the sacrament of communion there, despite the fact that they say they have an open table. My beliefs do not line up adequately with theirs for me to have a place at the feast.
I am aware that some whom I love with such undying passion that I would indeed willingly lay down my life for them are questioning my salvation and whether I will spend eternity with them. They wonder if I am one of those non-elect who will experience never-ending conscious torment. I know this. My heart breaks. However, I will not return to that world.
But I am still a Christian. In my maturing Christianity, I have moved from the God of anger, a God who appears to despise the very creation and the creature made in God’s image, a God whose capriciousness says, “Yes, I pick you but you I do not pick.” Yes, I have left it.
I am instead in love with Jesus who came to open wide the doors to the heavenly places to all, to the outcast, the leper, the foreigner, the sojourner, the widow, the orphan, the barren, the lost. I am in love with this one, sent by the Cosmic Lover, to hold in his dying agony all of our betrayal, all our ignorance, all our stupidity and meanness and murmuring and gossip and greed and lust and envy and gluttony and laziness and self-righteousness and sexuality and then say, “Father, forgive them. They simply don’t know what they are doing.”
I am in love with Jesus who would pay the ultimate price out of love . . . and then show us that death cannot contain or hold back that love. It will indeed find life again.
Yes, I am a Christian despite my growing despair over our infighting, over ridiculous battles about the tiniest of matters, over the way those who also call themselves Christian decide that it is OK to demean women (or slaves, or people of color or those who long for a same-sex marital covenant) as part of God’s will.
I am a Christian despite the fact that my own beloved United Methodist Church will undoubtedly crumble to dust in the next 20 to 30 years because we have forgotten that we are supposed to treat one another in the same way we ourselves wish to be treated. Our uncivil treatment of one another, not outdated polity or aging buildings and parishioners, has so infected us that we are about to go into septic shock.
But I am still a Christian despite . . . well, despite everything but Jesus.”
After spending the night thinking about her words I find that many of them are great and what I need. However, I find that too many of them are about finger pointing at the people who do not match what she considers a Christian lifestyle.
Sunday, my pastor used the Cherokee Legend of the Two Wolves to help explain our spiritual food. Allow me to share those words with you now:
An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.
I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”He continues, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when none is intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?” The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
As you read the blog I’ve shared, I ask that you overlook the finger pointing at all the wrong that is going on around you… all the ways you are putting others down while lifting yourself up… and focus on the two wolves living inside you. Which one is winning? Which one are you really feeding? That is the real question of the day.
You will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.
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