Sorry. Sorry that many Jesus people have told you crazy things. I know you are trying to make the most of your existence, just like I am. We all grasp for answers.
I hate what has been done to the term “evangelical.” You molded it into a straw man with the raw material of the moralists on the right. Apparently what is meant by the term is someone who is condescending and doesn’t like refugees. The dictionary definition still works but the political one is a big problem for me.
You need to know that my faith is not partisan, nor is it American. It is cosmic. What I believe about Jesus Christ—what he did, who he was, what he’s doing—transcends categories. My faith doesn’t provide marching orders to ballot boxes; it beams out into the cosmos into a bank of a billion unnamed stars.
The reason we cock our heads at one another has more to do with our fears than our beliefs.
Can we chat about motive for a second? I know that certain gods tempt their followers with trinkets or virgins, but not mine. I want you to meet my Jesus not because it will benefit me beyond the gift of witnessing your epiphany. I carry this hope gift and it’s too big to fit in my pockets, so I try to share it whenever I can. I don’t get anything for doing so—and I think you need to know that.
“Religious people” is like saying “breathing people.” Although much evil has been done in the name of God or gods, it’s too easy to say religion is the problem. You know what the problem is? Me. You. Us. In our attempts to make sense of our Mondays we build kingdoms with arguments and defend them violently. The crusaders and witch-hunters eat family style with Stalin and Mao.
Much of what you’ve seen in the Christian Church is a cultural charade: people dressing up and agreeing with one another to make them feel better about their wretchedness. But this is not the norm, nor is it Biblical. A Biblical understanding of Christianity is based on the gospel, which means good news. Don’t turn me off, I’ll make this quick. The gospel is the story of the redemption of wretches by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Arrogance is impossible if one considers what Jesus had to endure because of our sinfulness. We don’t think we’re better than you; we know we’re equally dark. But we found a Light Switch.
An atheist once said to me, “One must not resort to myths in order to purvey morality”—or something equally verbose to that effect. His point was that we don’t need God to be good people and his assumption was that we’re teaching grown-up fairy tales to keep people from murdering their neighbors. His statement showed a faulty assumption which you might hold, so let me make this clear: Jesus Christ did not come to purvey morality. He came to make dead people live.
When I see fellow believers raging at your perceived lack of morality, I want to throw things at them. There are two major problems with moralizing. One is that no one is without sin (that’s in my Bible, by the way). The second—and I really want you to hear this—is that for me to expect you to act on the basis of my beliefs is insanity. You act on the basis of your worldview, and for me to expect you to live a life that looks like mine without holding the beliefs from which I proceed is stupid.
You aren’t as smart as you think you are. We’re dust particles at best when compared to the universe. But, we are masterpiece dust particles. You know it’s true when you see a beautiful woman or watch someone hand a plate of food to a starving child. Science is descriptive, telling us much about what we are. But we hunger to know the who and why.
So let’s drop the dogma, shall we? Let’s be neighbors. And let me know if you’d like to hear more about the foolish hope of Jesus.