36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22 36-40, Bible, New International Version
I’m a Christian. Not a really great one, if you ask me, but I am. I believe in a God that created the world, and that he sent his son Jesus to die for us and forgive our sins. It’s not something I broadcast as well as I should. Part of that is fear and anxiety about how people will receive it, and part of it is the belief that I do better demonstrating it than preaching on it.
But I’m human. I foul up sometimes. Less than I think, but probably more than most people know. I feel like this is more common ground with people than my religious beliefs, so I usually start from there. Some people know about my beliefs, but it’s not something I really work into my online presence especially. People have preconceptions about Christians that prevent them from being honest, or engaging with them in a way that’s broad and deep and meaningful. We as Christians have earned that, though. We let morons like Pat Robertson be our mouthpieces, and be quiet while politicans and preachers futher marginalize thoughtful, well-meaning Christ followers who remember the verse above.
I wanted to use this as a launching point for a discussion on broader issues that are on my heart, but I might put that off for the moment. I’d appreciate your further indulgence, though.
Too much today, I see Christians using the Bible as a weapon to bludgeon and castigate others, and that saddens me deeply. I’ve spoken with friends and colleagues who see the church, who see the word of Jesus, as hateful, and that’s very, very sad. But again, we’ve earned that, haven’t we? Westboro Baptist Church exists, and isn’t shouted down loudly enough by those that know the word, and know that the message of the Bible is grace and love, and not the kind of stupidity that they promote. But the flawed interpretation of humans have led to a lot of wrongs in the name of Christ, and that’s a hard stain to erase.
If I’m a quiet sort on my faith, it’s because I prefer to engage people with a genuine interest in them, and not with the assumption that I’m setting up someone for “The Talk” about converting them. I believe in God, and I also believe that you’ll see it through how I act and speak and do, rather than by finding the first opportunity to shove a Bible in your hands. You’re more than welcome to ask, but I’m not shoving that on anyone. I don’t judge anyone’s experiences, because I know my own weaknesses.
For those that have been hurt by “the church” (I kind of hate that term, to be honest, but there’s no better way to refer to it), I have several thoughts as well. Firstly, I want to reassure you that you are loved, and nothing any human can say will override the love that God has for His creation. Secondly, that “the church” is composed of Christians, but also of humans. An organization is no better than it’s people, and we are all flawed. One of the core tenets of our belief is that we’re all sinners. People occasionally abuse God’s word and take a position of superiority, and that really isn’t the case. We’re all the same. We’ve all screwed up. There’s enough division in the world, we could use a little more love.
That verse up there, that’s what I want to live by. That’s where all of us Christians should start, really- to love our neighbours as ourselves- and we haven’t always done a good job of that. I’m no better than anyone, and if you’re reading this, you’re welcome in my house. Thanks, guys.