Monday, February 7, 2011

Finally Grieving

"You're different from other Christians."

I've heard this quite a few times over the course of the last year. Mostly from nonbelievers. When I defend Christianity to people who have been hurt or scarred by Christians or the Church (my atheist friends, my gay friends, etc.), the response I get is, "Well, not you, Rachel. I know you're not like other Christians."

Why?

I'm not a particularly great Christian. I mean, this whole blog is about how not great I am and how much better I could be—how much better I want to be. Generally, I'm a very selfish person. Selfish, sarcastic (and sometimes unintentionally mean), ungrateful, lazy (see masthead for confirmation on that one). When I compare myself to other Christians (not recommended, by the way), I land squarely in the bottom of the middle. There are Christians who are more well-read than I am. Christians who are better prayer warriors than I am. Christians who give God more glory. Better Christians. Nicer Christians.

Something about that last statement strikes me: nice. It's not really about being nice, is it? I mean, you can be nice to someone and not actually love them. Heck, you don't even have to like someone to be nice. You just have to—I don't know. Not punch them in the face?  It doesn't take much to be nice.

What should set Christians apart is not how nice they are but how compassionate they are. The true love they feel for others. 

Some Christians spew hate for other religions or for gays or for whatever other group they don't like. Why? God doesn't hate those people. God loves them. God is not willing for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance. He didn't send Jesus to save a precious few. Jesus came to atone for everyone's sins.

Everyone. He loves everyone

I've heard people pray that God would break their heart for what breaks his—that they would grieve over sin.  Every time I hear that, I think, "Oh, boy. I'm not grieving over anything. I don't really get that upset over sin in the world."

I grieved today. I cried today thinking about the people who think Christians hate them. It's been weighing on my heart for some time now, but today the weight seemed to crash down on me. People I love and admire who think I'm the only Christian in the world who loves them.

That's not what God wants from us.

All we have in this world is God. He's the only thing that won't pass away. Material possessions, money, our bodies—they'll all go away at some point. At the end of the world, all we have is God. He's all there is.

I can't bear the thought of someone not coming to know God because we have taken it upon ourselves to tell them God doesn't want them. God is the only thing that lasts. Who are we to take that away from anybody? I don't want to stand in front of God one day and feel the weight of other people's salvation denied because I told them God hated them.

Do you?

My job—if Christians have a job—is to love. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. 

Not, "Love God and others, except ____________." 

When I'm following those two commandments, God is evident in my life. Other people are drawn to that. People should say, "Rachel is different," not because I'm not like other Christians, but because I'm trying my best to be like Christ. The result is that people see God in my life and decide they want to know God, too.

To my friends and readers who have been hurt by Christians, I'm sorry. Matthew 24:12 (in talking about the end days) says, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." I'm sorry if you've encountered people whose love has grown cold. Christians are human. We make mistakes. We misinterpret scripture, we take it upon ourselves to do the judging that only God can do, and we tell you that God can't love you. 

Go to God. If you've stopped trusting or liking Christians, go straight to The Man himself. Christians can't mess God up. Our hypocrisy doesn't change who God is. In fact, it just proves God's awesomeness because he can forgive his followers despite all of our shortcomings. And he has enough forgiveness for all of us—all of us. Jesus never encouraged his believers to hate or condemn others. That's something some Christians have taken it upon themselves to do. I promise you, God does not approve. 

And to the Christians out there who harbor anger and hate in their hearts, please reconsider. Those feelings aren't from God. They pull you away from God. Anger and hatred cause others to put up barriers that prevent them from knowing God. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Tuck that in your heart and remember it always.

Don't let me be the only Christian who truly loves others. Really. I'm a lousy specimen. 

17 comments:

  1. Amen Rachel. God Bless You for writing this. <3

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  2. Well said, muchly needed, and Amen (again).

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  3. Well said and from the heart.
    I join you in praying that this post will break down some walls and open doors for discussion and healing.

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  4. Rachel,

    You speak the ailing that has been on my heart for years since my salvation. I came from a very non-believing background the majority of my life - and I had a hate for Christians because of being beat up by them as a kid for being a Jewish girl, and mistreated in general from that point on by them for whatever reasoning.

    In turn, I became the person whohated non-believers for the first couple of years when I came to Christ (I became my own worst enemy) - and since my wake up moment, it has ailed my heart to be declared the "different Christian." However, recently - very recently - I have been learning to embrace this being different.

    You nailed it - it does have to do with choosing to walk more in His steps, than our own; and people outside of the Christian community will see that more than those who are in it. And many who are in it, will actually feel intimidated and offended by you at times. I have been encountering such a thing now, blatantly, for the past couple of months. I am finding out because I am so "different", that I intimidate most Christians I come across - but not non-believers. Some Christian folks have told me that is because I am not walking completely in Him - and when I hear those words, I shake my head and usually change the subject (a couple of times though I have asked, "sincerely, who are you to judge my walk with Him?" - usually hushes them up).

    Living "different" as a Christian isn't "different" to God - it is simply "different" to this world. It is because His light shines in darkness. Embrace the Difference (God Himself) you have in you...it's worth it. :)

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  5. I think the problem comes from expectation. We're ALL screwed up. We've all hurt people. And then some look at someone who hurt them and say "oh, but they're a Christian" and blame it on the religion and lump us all together, instead of realizing it was that person who messed up.

    But, I do think we all need to try harder to love everyone.

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  6. I agree, Shell. I think some very misguided, very noisy Christians have done and said things that reflect on the majority of Christians (who, I believe, are really trying to love others). Add that to the fact that people mistake Christianity for a political stance, and it's caused a PR crisis for the Church. More people need to see individual Christians acting like Christ so the Church can lose the bad rep it's attained.

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  7. A beautiful post - and a beautiful message.

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  8. Amen, amen, AMEN!!! Thank you for this wonderful post.

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  9. As you said, it's the noisy ones who have caused a negative connotation to be associated with the word now. We as Christians in our entirety (right,left,middle) have our work cut out for us to undo that damage, but we have to love each other as God would want us to do. Beautiful post!

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  10. I couldn't agree with you more! Very well said. LOVE is the more excellent way!

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  11. This really spoke to me because it hits me at my core: be humble, seek mercy, love others.

    Well said.

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  12. Perfect love casts out fear. When we really let God's love in, we can give it away. Hoping more Christians will let that love in.... so they can share it. Great post!!!

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  13. You are (unfortunately) so right! I think it's SO easy for Christians to be judgemental!!! Very well said. AWESOME post.

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  14. A big AMEN! Christ talked of the Pharasees & Saducees in that they condemned and judged others if they didn't follow the "laws" or traditions of the "church". Christ seemed to have condemned this. And the fact that Jesus "hung" with the sinners comes to mind, also!

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  15. The Pharisees and Sadducees were being hypocritical and really leading people away from relationship with God. Christians are supposed to hold each other accountable for what the Bible says, but people who don't know the Bible can't be held to the same standards until they have a relationship with God. We can't go around telling people they broke the rules when they don't know the rules!

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  16. I've written on this topic many times. One of my posts was: http://eternallizdom.blogspot.com/2010/10/im-ally-and-i-give-damn-and-i-love-god.html

    I'm glad to know you, Rachel.

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