I have been thinking a lot lately, about a lot of things. Do I hold my hurt in? Do I confront those whose words and actions seem so dishonest? Don’t make assumptions here, this isn’t my thoughts about just people of faith but towards people in general, however, it is those who say they are Christians, (followers of Jesus) who really have me dumbfounded.
Some people don’t like the fact that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, to those who would deny me, or anyone of that right, you have no idea how selfish your wishes are and how much potential harm it does to the person who is trying to be emotionally healthy! One of the best books in the last few years I have read is The Emotionally Health Church by Peter Scazzero. This book is a wonderful study on the person of Jesus and the fact that while he was fully divine, he was also fully human, complete with human emotions and mannerisms. If the Son of God could be hurt, joyful, happy, sad and the whole gambit of emotional feelings, then why do we assume we as humans can’t or shouldn’t?
I have to tell you, I love the bride of Christ, commonly known of as the church. I love her to the point I have studied her a great deal, and while the church isn’t per say a building, she is a people who are wholly devoted followers of Jesus. She is much more than that though, unfortunately she isn’t much different than the whore we see illustrated in the book of Hosea in the Bible. I love the quote that Anthony Campolo uses of St. Augustine in the movie, Lord Save Us From Your Followers. “Are you talking about unfaithfulness? You're talking about the church," Campolo says in the film. "... It's a whore. But she's also my mother. I wouldn't be a Christian today ... if it wasn't for this thing called `the church."' I firmly believe, the love that is demanded for Christ, for the church, can only be fully understood with a complete study of the book of Hosea in the Old Testament.
In Hosea we see the story of a prophet of God who is called to marry a whore. We see Hosea’s wife isn’t someone who was simply converted but even after marriage, remains a whore, yet God has an expectation that Hosea stay with his wife, and that he remain faithful to her, despite her whoredom. I could go on here, but I would encourage a good read of the book, it is rather insightful and thought provoking.
What does any of this have to do with my current state of emotions? It actually has a lot to do with them, despite my writing on this subject for years now; it seems as if many in the church, many individuals who say they are followers of Jesus simply keep on whoring. I am not talking about those they keep in contact with, I am not talking about the company the keep, or the habits they have, I am talking about not taking seriously the call of Jesus to be honest, people of integrity, loving, and of their word. I am especially talking to people who present themselves as leaders in the faith perspective commonly known of as Christianity. Yes I know I can point fingers back at myself, but I have tried to maintain integrity and my willingness to point this out also indicates I am willing for people to hold me accountable, the cause of Jesus is more important than the image of Mike Furches. Some people who say they are followers of Jesus treat people like property, garbage, and of little or no value, yet these are often times the very people Jesus came and died for, he offered his full love to, yet, we make excuses to be so unlike Jesus. It has me so bothered, it is such a cancer on society, that I have literally, no exaggeration, contemplated the need to renounce Christianity. As followers of Jesus we are to lead people to the ways of Jesus, instead, we lie, cheat, make excuses and find ways to not love, be honest, and be people of integrity.
Now a quick note here, also understand, the word, the concept of Christian is something we were called by others early on in the history of the Church. In the First Century the concepts of being a Christian implied being like Jesus. Unfortunately, in the same way the word gay don’t mean what it did 20 years ago, when a word like fag may mean something different in England than it does in the United States or even when a Toboggan is totally different in East Tennessee than it is in Kansas, we have to take seriously the contemporary definitions of certain words. We have to take seriously how others hear us and how we in return hear them. When doing that, I challenge, is Christianity seen in a positive light? Instead of making excuses, instead of blaming others for their problem, why don’t we who say we follow Jesus see those individuals who see Christianity as a problem of more importance than the perspective they take? We have to understand, the problem many have with Christianity isn’t because of the people who have the negative view they do, it is because many of us who call ourselves Christian have given them good reason to have the views they do. Why don’t we address that problem instead of throwing blame back in the face of those who disagree with us?
Now the key word in all of my concern is love. I simply see so little of it, it bothers me. I can tell you of Christians in regards to my real friends who are gay, (as opposed to the token friends so many Christians refer to, when in reality they don’t really have gay friends in the definition of what a real friend is,) judgments are made yet no love is ever offered, no effort to understand is ever given. An example of this is quickly viewed when talking to my Christian friends about the movie Brokeback Mountain, they refuse to see it under any conditions, yet totally ignoring the human desire to have real friendships, and to have real companionship, the real struggle that many who are not only gay but straight go through. Instead of seeing that need, which we can help with, they see the need of something they see as being taboo, and then in reality, ignoring the needs of a people Christ loves with a passion. I see this attitude of exclusion and dishonesty so much I often wonder if we have read, and actually tried to apply the concepts as presented in the book of James, and other passages of Scripture to our lives. Gandhi was so right when he said, “I love your Jesus, but I don’t love your Christians, your Christians are so unlike your Jesus.” His observations were so right on the money, but unfortunately, the concepts for many who call themselves Christian have become little more than a cliché. I can’t help but believe the whore John writes about in the book of Revelation is the whore many of us have become.
Now I write this with some caution and trepidation. I realize there are many who love Jesus and have offered him exactly what he demands, their all. They love unconditionally, they serve willingly, they seek out integrity and honesty with all of their hearts. This doesn’t mean they never fail, we all do, but the attitude, the struggle that occurs when failure occurs is what determines a person’s heart, not the fact they fail. I realize there are those who will take this as a judgment; those are those who, likely have me as a friend at facebook, myspace or some other social networking organization that has allowed those definitions to determine a definition of friend different than what a real friend is. Here is the shocking truth, I have over 5,000 people who subscribe to my writings, I have millions that read them via various forums, but you know what, I think I can count my real friends on 10 fingers, maybe a few more than that, but not many. I have had people I have requested real friendship with, some work for large ministry organizations and some have spoken about the need for real friendship, I have visited non Christian businesses and the friends there are more real than friends at businesses ran and operated by Christians. I wish it were different, I desire, I seek, I value, I covet friendship and love, I think it is a part of the way God created us all. It hurts though; it hurts when people say they offer that and then take it away quicker than it takes to turn the channel on a television remote. It is why so many who are hurting are so reluctant to trust, and develop real friendship, then some wonder why this is they way it is.
Now here is the reason I write this today. I am blessed, honored, and pleased that many of my real friends are not Christian. They are real people who I have the honor to serve. I want to serve them, I want to love them, I want to share all that Jesus offers those individuals, more. As much as I desire these things, it becomes increasingly difficult because those who do call themselves Christians seem to have more and more reasons as to why they can’t do the things Jesus called them to do and be. If I feel this way, how much more do those seeking love, companionship, friendship see and feel this?
I am using the black and white prophetic and evangelistic tendencies God has created me with more today than normal, I use them with caution, but I want those who call themselves Christians, please do more, please love more! Be as much like Jesus as possible more! Display love more! Be people of integrity more! Be people of your word more! Be real more! You may not realize it, but when you do more of these things, it is easier for people to accept the message you say you believe in because they see what is real, not fake. It is here that Gandhi’s quote will no longer be a cliché, it will become a falsehood. It is then the Christians who seem so unlike their Jesus, will in reality display to the world around them that Jesus lives. He does for me, I have never regretted turning my life over to him, he has been faithful, he has been real, I want what he has for me for those he has called me to love. I want him for my real friends; I want him for those I desire to have friendship with. I can only pray and hope that we all have that same desire. I have learned that my faith in Jesus has never let me down, his friendship has always been there, and his reality is the one constant in my life. It is because of my knowledge of this that I want to share with hurting, lonely people, yet it is also why I want those of us who represent him to do what we are supposed to do.
Now as to accountability, I am sorry if I have offended, that wasn’t my intent, but I want more than ever those who don’t know; don’t accept the person of Jesus to please get to know about Jesus. Don’t judge him by me or the actions of those who say they follow him. I ask you to judge Jesus by the actions of Jesus, his words, his life, his love. To those I have let down in the past, I am sorry; hold me accountable, I don’t want to be one of those who pretend they care. I want to be real; I want to be to you what I need, a friend, someone who cares, and someone who loves you for who you are and where you are at.
A few years ago when I started The Virtual Pew, I established as a part of our vision the need to reach one person a day. Not because we didn’t see value in far more than one person, but because we believe God really does see each person, loves each person individually. Each individual that is important to God should also be important to us. I hope, pray, and seek after God and those who follow him to remind me of that each day. It isn’t the followers of Jesus which get me down and discouraged, it is more often than not, those who say they follow Jesus, who say they are Christians and in reality find every reason in the world to not act like him. For the times I have done that, I am sorry, please hold me accountable. My faith and my God have done far too much for me to not take that responsibility seriously. I hope you understand.
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