But as I grew up in my faith and like anything that is bound too long, you get restless. I found myself listening to the radio to "secular" music and liked it. I also liked movies and thus the reason I went to Film School. Well, the main reason I went to film school was to make Christian movies and Save the world through my films, but God had a different plan and I'm so glad that one didn't work out. Anyways, when I was away at school I was exposed to a lot of things that didn't fit into my little formula of how to be a "good little Christian girl." My heart didn't change but my surroundings and my experiences did. I still wanted to do good for the Lord but my small "box" was growing and the god that I was raised in believing suddenly didn't fit into that box anymore. He couldn't be contained in that box any longer, and I learned this by meeting different believers, who were raised different but seriously followed Jesus.
I met a good friend named Carol in college and she is still a good friend to this day. Carol was a Catholic. Growing up, I always believed Catholics were the "religious" ones that the bible said to stay away from. They had too many meaningless rituals that seemed religious. Now I don't believe that but anyways, Carol loved the Lord. She loved the earth and the animals in it. Even her stuffed animals, she treated with respect. :) (I would always pick on her about that, though.). She recycled and as a marine biology major knew the importance of taking care of the world and how it affected the animals in it. She taught me, as Christians, we should take even more care of the world because it was a gift from above. Carol helped me to see you didn't have to speak in tongues to be a good Christian (thats what I was raised to believe). Actually, she never spoke in tongues before in her life and lived a better Christian walk than a lot of my Christian friends did that had spoken in tongues.
That's just one example but there were numerous others that lead me to believe there was a lot more to a relationship with Jesus than just the rules. I always say Thank God for learning more about Grace because I would have bounced a looong time ago if it wasn't for discovering the GOOD NEWS of the gospel when I started questioning my Faith it led me to dig deeper and still does. And the more I dig the more I'm discovering God's Goodness. I always said God is Good. But I'm really starting to have little inklings of just how good he really is, lately.
But back on point, God also put me in a path with a wonderful Atheist friend/co-worker named Sam. I love Sam, we've had our debates but we don't really do that anymore. Sam loves people. Sam loves insects too, and won't kill one. She makes me feel bad when I kill them, but I still do. Anyways, Sam has the ability to put herself in others shoes. She has a heart for the oppressed and has even reprimanded me in the past for some "unchristlike" comments I've made towards people I know nothing about. I recommend all Christians get an atheist friend like Sam, lol. They keep you on your toes. She's probably gonna kill me for putting her in my Christian blog but I look up to Sam and she's made a difference in my life without even realizing it. And please don't kill me Sam, but I see Christ a lot in her and she doesn't even believe in him even more so than a lot of Christians. She is giving, would give you the shirt off her back, if she could. She is not materialistic at all. She likes fashion but won't stoop to buying expensive things for herself. She won't be believe anything without seeing the facts first. She's a free spirit and I love her for it.
I use to compare myself to her righteousness and fall short. It use to trouble me how someone who could not even believe in Christ but still in so many ways have such a big heart for Humanity. But thats how falling in love with God is. It's seeing Him in the creativity and goodness of those around you. Everything good and beautiful comes from God. Some just haven't followed the breadcrumbs back to the Creator. He is a creative God and he made Creativity. We get so fearful of being like "the world" as Christians that we miss out on all his goodness around us. We miss out on his creativeness in those around us and we don't get as Creative for fear it would offend someone. If you love people like Christ loved us, you would see Christ in them. You would love them how they are, not when they become a certain way then they could be our friend. Nooo, if Christ could love me as a sword-swinging, probably hurting the kingdom more than helping, legalistic Christian than he can love anyone just as they are, wherever they are. I believe Christ loves Sam too. I don't try to win her over anymore, I just sit back and admire the fresh perspectives of loving people without Religion and learn from it.
We say "Oh, but I want to be separate from the World, though, I can't mingle with them, I gotta be separate. " Follow Jesus, that will separate you from the world as well as a lot of religious people too. Speak about Peace. That one really makes people mad. Actually they'll start thinking you've gone mad. We say Jesus has given me Peace in my heart but that peace doesn't spill out into our daily lives. We would rather Stand for Jesus than to follow Him. Jesus didn't take a stand. He just loved people. And he preached Peace everywhere he went. We've made it so we would rather worship Jesus than follow him. I like how Brian Zahnd puts it:
I believe in worshipping Jesus I really do, but you have to be careful: worshipping Jesus can be the cleverest way of all to not follow Jesus. Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him. What is His cross? Jesus beared Hostility on the cross. He bears it and forgives it. We look at Jesus and we say "I worship you Jesus!" okay Jesus says "Follow Me." "Oh yes, Jesus I worship you!" "Okay, take up your cross." "Oh yes Jesus, I worship you! Your the Son of God!" Then finally Jesus says "Why do you say Lord Lord and don't do what I say?!" You can not claim to worship Jesus and promote Hostility. Jesus came to preach Peace and not hostility and his followers must do the same. Since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus there is a New Truth in the world: There is No Them, theres only Us. To believe there is an Us Vs Them is to believe the devil and follow the old way of the world. But Jesus is Lord over our lil Blue Marble since he ascended into Heaven.
Coming out of Legalism and into Grace, I've often wondered if I was being "set apart" enough. I don't need rules to define me as a Christ follower but what did, if even my atheist friend could love people just as much or even more than I did.
I read Brian Zahnd's book "A Farewell to Mars" recently and its one of my top 5 books that I highly recommend. What comes natural to others who aren't even Christians didn't click with me until 15 years after being a Christian. And that makes me sad. That's why I want to expose Religion. It is so intertwined with the Christian church that it dilutes God's Grace and only offers it to a certain kind of people while turning the rest away from the church. People who might even have catched a glimpse of Jesus' love before we have even seen it. I'm sad that I've been a Christian for 15 years and the central message of Love and Peace is just now hitting home to me and it's been in front of my face in the text the whole time. Reading that book helped me realize the idols I've had in my life without even knowing. Idols of consumerism, selfishness and Empire worship. These things keep us busy with our own worship to them that we almost forget the sick, the poor, the immigrant and the helpless. Did you know Our nation alone has enough food to sustain everyone in the world? But the Empire of our Nation is greedy. We are prideful and we a lot of times don't care about hostilities happening on our own turf, much less whats happening in other countries. Were always running around trying to keep up with the Jones' and acquire more stuff and Jesus is saying: Follow Me. Not the ways of the old world before I became Lord of the Earth but of the new ways of loving and putting aside our differences and making the oppressed our first concern. You can't follow God and wealth you either hate the other and love the one. But not both. (matt 6:24)
IF YOU WANT TO BE DIFFERENT FROM THE MINDSET OF THE WORLD, LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE FOR YOUR ENEMIES! Let go of your pride and jealousies! See Christ in Everyone! See Christ in the least of people and you will not be like the world. Quit bringing up their sin because you suffer from the same sickness they have, just in a different way. Love them like Christ and you won't have to preach to anyone because your actions will speak louder than any words you have to offer.
now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14For he But himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph 2:13-22)