I have been thinking a great deal this past week or so about faith, about my faith, about Christianity, and Christians, and about what it all means in this world.
My last few days have been filled with mostly two different things that have completely taken over my mind. First of all, this past Thursday my brother-in-law was severely injured in a work accident. For the first two days, I was taking care of my sister's kids, and so I didn't have too much time to think about it, but when they went back to their home with my mother taking care of them, I was left on my own and the reality of it all just overwhelmed me. My sister and I are both members of very loving church communities. They are often reaching out to church members and helping when needed. So, of course in instances like this, they were the first ones we went to for prayer support. It was those around my sister's family, who are not part of the church community, though, who really stood out to me. People from her work rallied around and raised a lot of money for them. Others in their social circles dropped in with gifts, food, donations. People from the kids schools came by with gifts for the kids, and gas cards. Even today someone from the neighborhood came by with a very generous cash donation, that he had raised by going to people's homes in the neighborhood. I don't know why. I guess I always expect to see the good in Christians, I expect to see them giving, reaching out to people, giving what they can. For some reason, I've lived life with a (maybe very, very deeply hidden, because let's face it, no one wants to let thoughts like this leak out) idea that those who are not Christians are less kind, less generous, maybe even less loving. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! People are good people. We cannot judge someone's goodness, necessarily based on what they claim to be, a follower of Christ or an Athiest, or a Muslim, or a Jew. It does not matter. There are good people in the world, and there are bad people in the world. In the case of my brother in law, who is now home, with a broken neck, after spending only 4 nights in the hospital, I will choose to focus on the goodness of people. We have been so blessed, and I know my sister is very thankful for the love people are showing her family. Her husband is a well loved man in their community.
The second thing that has been on my mind a lot is the whole Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty thing. I shouldn't even really say too much about it. I don't know enough to properly express how I feel. At first, I was on his side. I really felt as though people expect the world to listen to opinions and thoughts of so many, but when it comes to a strong Christian belief, then no one wants to accept it. But, then, I read a blog post asking us to consider the words that we use, and how they can affect people. Words are powerful. You can read this post here. We are reminded that opinions are just that, however, there are acceptable ways to present them, and then, there are those which are not. Mr. Robertson has every right to believe what he does. I don't necessarily believe he meant any harm, I think he really believes he's right in saying these things, but it still doesn't make it right how he said them. ((Don't even get me started on the Justine Sacco thing that she mentions. After watching 'The Butler' yesterday, I'm just disgusted by the fact that someone would think such a statement is a funny in this day in age.))
Then, today, my cousin who I've come to love and respect, finally voiced an opinion about the whole Phil Robertson thing, and her argument about why she doesn't feel as though she is over-reacting, in this situation. Like often happens when this cousin of mine states her opinion, I was just drawn to her words, and really moved by how strongly she feels for the rights of so many who are not being treated fairly. People are being persecuted, persecuted for being different, for being gay, for choosing not to be a believer in Christ. The things her friends posted in response, were the experiences they have had in life, one stating that the site of a cross making her physically sick, because of the many times she had them jammed into her forehead, another stating how her grandmother offered her brother $10,000 to "stop being gay." Disgust. This is what I feel. The things we do in the name of religion. The ignorance. I read these comments to husband this evening and cried the whole time. It just makes me sad.
Too many people are being mistreated, judged, and persecuted for the sake of this 'love' faith we claim to follow. We quote scriptures.
John 3:16 - For God so LOVED the world, He gave His only begotten Son.... That verse does not tell us that God only loved Christians. It was actually the Jews that He sent Jesus to save, however, it became a mission for the whole world. No where does the Bible say, God so loved the world, except gay people. It does say that we have to believe in Jesus to have eternal life, and my goodness, can you ever imagine why people would choose not to, with the witness we've brought forth for Him? If we are jamming crosses into people, persecuting them for not believing, denying people who are gay/lesbian the common courtesy of having the same rights as us, to be married and to acknowledge their love as the same as ours, how can we ever expect that any of these people will want to trust in a God we act as though who permits us, maybe even encourages, to behave this way? We cannot. If we did that then, we are denying everyone two basic things that Jesus came to offer us. First of all is LOVE. We must love everyone. It comes more easily for some than others, but just giving everyone the same amount of respect, not judging based on any criteria, since we are not the judge would be a good starting point. The second gift is a CHOICE. Jesus was not in the business of forcing people to believe in Him. Those around Him chose to be His followers of their own free will. We need to remember this. If we force faith on someone, they will grow to resent it, and will want nothing to do with it.
If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believed in Him should have everlasting life, they why are we filling the world with so much hatred and judgement, claiming to do so on His behalf? Where is the love that He came to give?
I really hope that I've not offended anyone. It's not my intention. These things have been going through my mind so much lately. My church care group is doing a study called, Not A Fan, and the verse I've been meditating on recently is "If you are going to follow me, you must take up your cross and follow me." It keeps going through my mind, and I want to become a follower of Christ, not just a fan. Sometimes, I suppose this means going out on a limb, maybe saying things that others will not agree with. I love to have polite, respectful discussions about world events, however, I do not, will not tolerate rudeness, and