This post is a slightly modified version of something I wrote and posted earlier this year. Recently, this has been coming up a lot in conversation around me – in fact – last week, I confessed to my small group that it is often times harder for me to love the Church than it is to love people who completely disassociate with God and Christianity altogether. In the interest of engaging in something worth talking about, regardless of where I stand today, I thought it was timely to re-post these thoughts. See for yourself? I would love to hear what you think!
This is going to sound awful.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought differently of me after reading this article. But for the sake of vulnerability and in the name of honesty – I need to come clean. I need to get this off my chest.
Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to own up to being a Christian.
Sometimes, there are moments of utter humiliation that trap me in my cubicle and I shy away from the word altogether. In a desperate attempt to completely disassociate with the ignorance, hate and monotony it’s synonymous with, my tongue and lips work independent of my heart and brain, smack together and blurt out the most liberal thing I can think of. And suddenly, right there in a conglomerate of muted-grey half-walls, I’m standing on a soapbox of civil liberties defending same-sex marriage.
Or something like that.
But it’s not because I’m ashamed of Jesus. Or God. It’s not even because I’m scared of standing up for some of the counter-cultural truths spelled out in the Bible. It’s doesn’t stem from an embarrassment of personal convictions that are, at times, fodder for comedy in secular settings.
It’s because of us.
It’s because there are some of us who slap the label on like it’s a new Michael Kors bag and we walk around the city calling people fags. Bibles in hand.
It’s because some of us make others of us sign waivers saying, “I solemnly swear I will never watch a rated R movie,” or “I won’t ever shake my hips to music in public.”
It’s because there exists places in this world where funerals of slain children are picketed because of the belief that “God sent the shooter” as punishment for our sins.
It’s because we make people who had/have sex before marriage feel like the scum of the Earth by not allowing them to serve in our churches.
It’s because we treat homosexuals like patients instead of humans.
It’s because we write checks to charities, seal the envelope and then write all about it on our Facebook wall.
The word “Christian” has become synonymous with everything that is antonymous with Christ.
And I want nothing to do with it.
But in a sort of post-rant reflection, I realized, in part, that I shoulder some of the responsibility. Because the “us” implies a “we” – and I, of course, am a part of it. So I admit it. There have been plenty of times where I’ve exemplified, if even on a smaller scale, the same kind of hate – the same kind of faithful ignorance that drives a rusty nail into the very heart of God. And I’ve done it in His name. For that, I am ashamed and infinitely apologetic.
Perhaps my desire to dissociate with the “C” word doesn’t seem calculated, but immature, rash and reactive. Perhaps it has thrust you into a frantic scribble of prayers for me in your thick and tattered journal or perhaps you’re rejoicing as a non-believer who’s been waiting for me to renounce my faith for almost two and a half decades. But can you wait a minute?
My faith was, is and always will be in Christ.
Not in Christians.
And it’s the confusion between those two juxtaposed ideas that throws us all into a frenzy of agitated finger-pointing – no matter what side of the fence you’re walking on. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about us. And it’s most certainly not about me.
It’s about a perfect grace-filled man who not only considered all of the above, but all that is infinitely uglier, and said, “I love you still.” And it’s because of this – and only this – that I can say with confidence and the utmost conviction that I love the Church, the Body of Christ and the brilliantly broken tapestry that He calls His own.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons // Sean McGrath