My father was a leader in our Christian church. So were many of my relatives. In middle school, I was seeking popularity at my Christian school; so I began swearing and being cruel to others so that I might jockey for control and a popular position among my peers. On the way to a sporting event, I put down a classmate of mine harshly with my words. Out of nowhere, my gut felt sucker-punched with remorse. I called him late that night to apologize. He forgave me. I continued on, thinking that I was a “Christian” because I knew my catechism, I knew the Bible, I had prayed to receive Christ when I was young, and furthermore I went to a Christian School.
A few weeks later, I found out that I needed knee surgery. Our pastor prayed that I would have “peace that passed understanding” on my way into surgery. Usually, I was a worry-wort. I fretted about everything and anything. That morning, however, I felt completely and utterly at peace in a way that I had never experienced before. The entire three hours leading up to surgery, I was still inside of my soul.
Nine days after surgery, I was on crutches in the hallway of my Christian Middle School. My “worst enemy”, an older boy, ran down the hallway and did a karate spin kick, landing his foot millimeters below my incision and stitches. The pain was overwhelming and I doubled over, screaming in agony. After school, there was an awful confrontation between him, his mother, and my mother.
After consulting with the doctor and receiving more pain medicine, I was given permission to attend a Christian concert that evening. My parents, brother and I sat in the last row of the 1,000 person sanctuary so that I could put my knee up to rest it. In the middle of the concert, Phil Driscoll, the trumpeter; gave an invitation for audience members to surrender their lives to Christ. In my mind, I smugly thought, “Oh, that’s not me…I am a Christian.” I actually opened my eyes, thinking that this part of the concert was not for me. “There is a girl in the back row of this auditorium who thinks that just because she became a Christian when she was little, that’s enough. If that’s you tonight, you need to re-dedicate your life to Him. Your life is not following Christ, you’re merely doing lip-service.”
I couldn’t believe that God would care so much about me! He spoke to me in the midst of 1,000 other people. I mattered. My heart was stirred, my mind was marveling, and I re-dedicated my life to Christ. I asked forgiveness for living a double life and for caring more about popularity than I did about Him.
I understand that Phil Driscoll is an artist/minister who is a controversial man in the news, but there is no denying that a Holy God used him to reach me. I also understand that I fail to love like Christ loves me, yet God still uses my words and actions to reach others.
This is not a glib article. I say these words with too many horrific experiences at the hands of people that claim(ed) to be Christians. I was raped by a man who had sat next to me in church, who had held me when I wept, who had prayed with me after chapel services at my Christian college. After I miscarried my baby girl, the child that resulted from the rape; I spent a year questioning where God was in that experience, how He could be good if that evil thing was allowed to happen to me.
I later married a man who was fresh out of Bible college, with the intention that we would be partners in Youth Ministry, loving kids the way that Christ loves us. I found out on my honeymoon that he was a drug addict, an abuser, and a liar. When I sought to leave him, I had three different pastors tell me that it was my “duty” to stay and love him. Five years and three children later, mercifully, a different pastor told me that the Bible and common sense made it clear that I could and should leave. (By this time, he was threatening to have the children and I killed.)
The next years were filled with “well-meaning” Christians who robbed me blind, denied me of justice, aided in cover-ups, lied under oath, gave my ex-husband information which endangered our lives, harassed me, intimidated me, ridiculed me, shunned me because I was a single mother, and attempted to subdue me into silence.
If anyone has a reason to walk away from Christianity because of Christians, IT’S ME.
As I’ve wrestled and agonized over my faith in Christ these last 18 years; I am repeatedly reminded of the same truth.
If anyone has a good reason to walk away from Christians, it’s CHRIST.
The “religious” rulers of the day requested his crucifixion. The local synagogue-attendees agreed to his crucifixion. “Christians” continually seek out rhetoric, demagoguery, and control while rejecting His love. Instead of loving others as He commands, we selfishly and arrogantly grasp after things we can’t possibly attain without fully depending on Him.
Therein lies the greatest paradox of all.
Christ died for our sins so that when we sin, we could still be loved by Him…despite our sins and failure to love others.
We, as humans, suck. We just do. We sin, and we hurt each other, and we are so mean to one another…and that’s the just the Christians.
But, it’s not a good enough reason to discount who Christ is.
A Christian’s job is to reflect the love of Christ to the world. When that reflection is obscured or marred by the sinful actions of human beings, it doesn’t negate the reality of who Christ is or how he loves us. If that argument were rational, then one could claim that the sun has failed to shine on cloudy days.
The presence of clouds doesn’t negate or change the character of the sun. The presence of sinful Christians doesn’t negate the reality of a perfect and loving Christ, even if it does reflect poorly on him. The reflection is bad, the source of love and acceptance is not.
Dear ones, how my heart longs for you to have a fresh understanding of the following:
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodya and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.b 4 Butc God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I am so sorry for the pain that Christians have caused you. Please forgive us for failing to love with the love which rescued us from ourselves.
May our actions never be a stumbling block, but may they instead be a stepping stone for you to see and embrace the immense grace and love that Christ holds for you…and us, the sinners.
Dear ones, you are loved!
You are beloved!
Beloved, be loved.
Then BE LOVE!