Thursday, June 13, 2013

Things I Ponder: Faith in Jesus or Faith in the Church?

*I started writing this over a year ago. When I first left my marriage and was dealing with people I thought were my Christian "friends" treating me as if I were the enemy and the one in the wrong. Since then I really don't feel I identify with the "Church" at all and don't evven like to be called a Christian. Do I still believe in Jesus? Yeah, I do. But, I don't think I'll ever go back to being a "Christian" again.*

For a while now I've been pondering some things that probably won't have me too popular with "The Church" at large, but I've decided that I have to be honest with myself and stop being afraid to say what I believe. I saw a quote taken from To Kill a Mockingbird today that seemed to put my feelings on the subject into words:

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ spoken by the character Atticus 

I know that my views on some things aren't going to be shared by a whole lot of people that I've considered friends for years, but I'm ok with that as long as they are. It's when I am treated as "ungodly" or as if I have lost my love for the Lord or I'm disrespected that I begin to have a problem with us having differing opinions. And, I've come to notice that there is far too much of that going on in the Church. It makes me realize why some folks are so against going to church or getting involved with anything Christian at all. But, for me, it's not about the Church and where I stand with "them", it's about Jesus. I have to know where I stand with Him. I have to place my faith in Him and pray everyday that I'm following His heart and not mine. This next quote pretty much sums up what I mean: 

The church is human, and we make mistakes. Sometimes we don't represent God very well at all. But Jesus represented God perfectly as the incarnation of God. He loved the people his culture didn't love, he interacted with people he wasn't supposed to interact with, and he refused to distance himself from the people others called "sinners." Jesus' harsh words were aimed at the religious leaders of his day who, in their zeal for correct doctrine, were pushing people away from God. He didn't run for office or yell at sinners through a bullhorn. He loved, healed, and fed people, and then he let them beat him and hang him on a cross. - in answer to a question about why be a Christian after being battered by The Church.

This quote comes from a Q/A article with a young man who is gay but also happens to be Christian.... wait, you didn't know those two things could go together? I'd say you need to take that up with Jesus. Anyway, this young man, Justin Lee, is the Director of The Gay Christian Network, and author of the book, "Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christians Debate. The article I mentioned can be found on Rachel Held Evans' blog. I felt like his response was a perfect answer to not only the way he and other's who identify as homosexual have been treated by people in the church but the way that many many others, myself included, have been treated at various times. Simply because we don't look or act like the Christians that the "Church" thinks we should look or act like.

So, that makes me think and ask: Christians who are aiming harsh words at the people Jesus would be loving: who/what is your faith really in? The Church? Or Jesus? 

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