Sunday, December 14, 2014

That time I loved Jesus, but didn't like being a Christian.

I've always liked Jesus.  I've always gravitated to his story.  I like the fact he was born in a manger when no one could fit him into their house.  I liked when he told parables instead of direct answers, I also liked that he just didn't quite fit in and people didn't know how to take him.  I liked that he had a heart for the oppressed and he bended the Jewish laws in order to reach the divide to those more marginalized people.  Jesus always appealed to me even as a kid.

When I was a kid Jesus seemed cool but God always seemed scary.  Like the Wizard of Oz scary.  You know that big voice behind the curtain that will make you tremble and chastise you,  that kinda scary.  Jesus was my friend but God was my oppressing, kind of insane Father.  I wondered why they didn't seem to fit each other sometime.  Jesus died on the cross for me just so he could be my friend, but God was ready to pounce on me and send me to hell in the moment my weakness showed up.  "Stay strong." He'd say. "Your better than this, your better than your sin." But I didn't feel better, I felt weaker than my sins.  I felt less human, I felt more ashamed.  God had a way of guilting me over and over again.  It was an endless cycle I didn't know I could get free from.  Temporary relief came when other "godly" people didn't see my unhappiness or my struggles.  I could seem better than I was.  I could seem well when I was really sick.

Well there's only so much our spirits could take when it comes to that rat race of godliness catching.  I loved Jesus but I didn't love not being myself.  I was sin and sin was me.  We opposed each other but yet we couldn't live without the other.  I hated sin but it was so engrained in me that I was always falling short somewhere in my life.  Continuously failing God again.  Not giving enough.  Not excited enough.  Not in love enough. Grace was preached in my life but it came with strings attached.

I could have this wonderful gift of Grace but it came with stipulations.  You know, kinda like when someone tries to sell you something.  They make it look so wonderful to you, make you think you can't live without it but then pull back and say "Oh it can be yours for just so many small payments each month."   By the time I was done paying I didn't want the stupid "gift" anyways.  Seemed worthless.

And somehow that's how my Christian speech came to be in my life. Worthless.  I loved Jesus but the Christian stipulations weren't making much sense to me.  Jesus loved me.  He went to Hell and back again for me but God was not so impressed.  I was doing everything he said but it just wasn't cutting it. I started wondering what all these stupid rules meant.  Why can't I sleep in on Sundays? Why can't I have a drink?  Why can't I fit in with sinners?  I like them.  Why can't I say a cuss word when I'm mad, it feels good.

And then I realized the world still goes on, grieving to be made right and looking for a home, while I sit here wasting time wondering what things are okay and what things will send me to hell.  Suddenly when you put yourself in someone else's shoes, someone different from you, those things don't seem important anymore.  Really they just seem dumb to worry about.  I mean what is God, Santa Claus?  Is he making a list and checking it twice? No.  No he's not.  I found he's really not worried if you a good little Christian, following the rules.  We'll leave that for the other religions to waste time on and worry about.  He's worried about that homeless guy on the corner.  He's worried about strife between believers' denominations. He worried about Peace. He's worried about that person hurting inside. He's worried about your "sinner" friends you keep a distance from so you won't quite be lumped into the same category as.  He's worried about you loving this world and bringing the Good News to them.

It wasn't until recently that I got excited to call myself a Christian again.  I was distancing myself from Christian things and didn't really want a part of them.  I loved Jesus but Christian things just seemed cheesy and no sustenance in them.  They didn't seem like me.  I didn't feel right bearing it all in front of my congregation.  I had wounds that I wasn't ready to expose and heal.  I couldn't see myself as the person that got active in church again, prayed for people or just got excited and had to tell people about Jesus….

And then I found Jesus again.  I found Him somewhere I didn't expect to find Him.  I found Him saying Peace.  I found Him wanting to expose my wounds again to the church.  I found Him wanting me to draw closer to people again.  To lean on my brethren and love them where they are.  That's where I found Jesus again.  I found Jesus in my non-religious friends.  I found Him in the broken.  And  then all of a sudden he wasn't so hard to please.  He wasn't so above me or irrelevant for I didn't find Him in the cliche Christian lingo that only Christian's say but in the still small gestures of a caring word, a helping hand and a soft opened heart.  Yessss!! That's what he did and that's what he's been doing lately.  He's been softening my heart.  Making it wide for the people we overlook.  Fitting in the marginalized. Cast aside people that don't quite fit in like me. And even the religious ones.  For they have Grace too.  They just compare it more to a Human Grace than a God Grace.  They do what they think is right.  We must not always blame them.  The Pharisee's weren't evil people they just didn't look for God in the outskirts or the stigmatized.  They looked for him in the places, he should be: Fighting Rome and starting a war to free the Israelites instead he was a belittled plain looking guy that became the scapegoat for all of us when His teachings of Peace and Kingdom come, brought the Empire and the Religious crowd to crucify Him in the most Inhumane way.

So yea, I started to like being a Christian again once I seen Jesus in everything beautiful and good.  When I quit looking for Him in the places I expected to see Him and I found His image in Saints and sinners alike.  I started to see His Kingdom come together and it made me want to be apart of it. I got excited about it. I didn't just like Jesus, I started falling in love with Jesus. He was so fascinating and alluring, I had to be apart of it. It made me want to help bring forth what's inside of others and to speak life into those around me.  That's apart of telling the Good News this World is looking for.  Will you join me in bringing New Life to this Dying World?

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