I love Jesus. I believe in the God of the Bible, and I don’t think he’s a monster that creates suffering.
I don’t think this is all a rigged shell game.
However, even though I go to an Evangelical church, and play on the worship team (Christianese for band), I see a very ugly, loud segment of the population attempting to by a spokesperson for me, and I am very uncomfortable with it. I am not a Christian Dominionist- I believe that Jesus, the ultimate outsider, is for outsiders. Veterans and thieves, people who like to drink too much or sleep around, people who have been hurt, poor people, people working too hard for the wrong reasons, people who don’t know how to do thing right, people who don’t look like you or me, sick people, hoarders, Dr. Who nuts, people who are angry, and the people that created these demons in the lives of others.
I don’t believe Christians should take the lead in every facet of life. I also don’t believe in a separate-but-equal (but totally unequal) Christian Art Ghetto, where Thomas Kinkade is supposed to make me forget about how seeing Picasso’s “Guernica” in person made me weep in a gallery at it’s grotesque, fierce beauty, and a sappy prom ballad where “baby” is supplanted by “Jesus” is supposed to pass for decent rock and roll. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, to me, will forever be the most sublime, lovely piece of music ever written, and there isn’t a 3rd Day or Michael W. Smith or Marvin Sapp song which comes close to it.
I want total separation of Chruch and State. I don’t want to tell non-Christians how they MUST live, because this isn’t the Arabian peninsula a millennium ago. I also don’t want the government telling me who or what I need to pray to or celebrate if at all. Free will, and the freedom of the individual must be paramount. Forced conversions didn’t work during the crusades, and they don’t work now.
I do believe Christians should not have to hide the attributed and values which sober study of scripture and Christian thought can inspire- the sacredness of others, stewardship of resources, kindness, charity, patience, and hearts that seek peace, implementing creative solutions to problems thought unsolvable. I believe in love.
So I kind of dislike the word “Christian” because of the cultural baggage it carries in 21st century America. Most people think that means I must be a conservative, gun-toting, Chik-Fil-A eater.
Well, I’m not. That hat doesn’t fit me.
But to be honest, a lot of my friends are-and they are AMAZING people.
They love me, and through personal struggles have not abandoned me. They washed homeless people’s feet with me on Christmas Day. They helped me rake yards for shut-ins. They helped me gather coats for orphans in Russia, with enough left over to donate to the survivors of Hurricane Sandy. They also have been praying for me since Paloma first starting having seizures, and keep reminding me of it. They have inspired me to keep going when I wanted to live in sweatpants and not leave the couch.
In short, they are my friends. I might not see eye-to-eye with some of them on economic issues, or the environment, or whatever. That’s okay. our God is bigger than these issues, and the umbrella of Christianity is big enough, too, but I can’t help but feel like angry people who are more known for what they are against than what they are for are dominating the conversation of what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century, in the face of poverty, debilitating disease, global conflict, depleting resources, injustice of every sort, and a cultivated, intentional atmosphere of terror.
And I don’t like it. I don’t need that right now. I don’t need paranoia and xenophobia. I’m hurting. I need a big, strong God who is more powerful than political, and I resent that those aspects of how I connect to God are de-emphasized.
I have resolved to not give up, I will sojourn on. I will not adopt some goofy label for myself, I will assert my turf. I will stand and fight. So while the larger corporate identity of Christianity becomes more distorted and distasteful, I’ll depend on Jesus, and me and my republi-pals will be here, and we’ll keep on keepin’ on.