It’s time for followers of Christ around the world to stand up and courageously declare that we aren’t angry and aren’t all dopey rubes who believe the internet memes and alarmist headlines that try to turn us against our neighbors! It’s time we said, “NO!” to more silly calls for boycotting companies that support the dignity and civil rights which we and our diverse neighbors all cherish! It’s time to be heard! It’s time we took a stand for the things in our personal lives and choices that matter before we lose them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. And what about civility and honesty? We’ve been taught to be kind and to use our words to build others up! It’s time we got serious!
I’m not only not angry, I’m really quite happy. I enjoy my faith and my faith community. I enjoy exercising my right to choose a faith and pursue it, or not. And I’m happy that others have the same right. I’ve searched my scripture for a lot of years and just can’t find that elusive reference to the United States, or any Christian nation for that matter, but I keep stumbling across lots of things on my own life and choices and my responsibility to serve other people with sincere love and gentleness. It seems like there was a verse at one time telling me which political party I had to belong to in order to remain a Christian, but I can’t find it anymore. So, I’m just gonna be happy and let everyone know it! Hey people, love you!
And I’ll tell you something else while we’re at it… I love my neighbors! I love my Christian neighbors! I love my Muslim neighbors! I love my Jewish neighbors and all the other religious neighbors I have whether they are Sikh, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu or Wiccan, or two or those, or one I forgot to mention! I love my atheist neighbors, too! I love my gay neighbors and I love my straight neighbors! I love my old neighbors and the young ones! I love my male neighbors and female neighbors and trans neighbors. OMG, I love them all and I’m not going to let anyone try to represent me and say I don’t. I love them because they are amazing people, and I love them because my faith tells me to love them. I’m stuck with love! I may feel like loving less some days or caring less, but I’m screwed if I want to be hateful. Welcome to Christianity as Jesus taught it, huh? Judgement is out the door, meanness and carelessness are gone, and my right to get angry and tell someone off is finished. Distilling all the negativity and hurt down to love is rough stuff, but it’s the commitment I made at baptism.
And you know what else? I cannot believe that anyone is dumb enough to threaten their neighbors just because they believe differently from them! This is AMERICA! In America we are guaranteed the right to be
Christian the religious persuasion of our choice. If you’re silly enough to threaten and deny your neighbor their right to free choice, free thought and free speech, then please don’t be surprised when someone tries to take the same from you. And for goodness sakes, don’t use my religion to justify your ridiculous actions and words!
If you see or hear someone doing something incredibly stupid, mean, threatening or uncivil in the name of Christianity, please don’t think of me. And don’t think of Christ, either. For anyone interested in it, I made a cheat sheet on what Jesus taught about religion. If we are getting this simple set of ideas right, then we wouldn’t have all the arguments, boycotts and fights going on with our neighbors.
This is my response and repudiation of religious intolerance and meanness. This is my declaration of confusion at people using Christ to dominate, hate or condemn others. This is my way of trying to use a little light-heartedness and honesty to sincerely stake a claim on the love that Jesus taught and instituted with his life, ministry, death and resurrection.
Because of my faith: 1) I do not need to judge my neighbor, 2) I must craft my words to support and serve, 3) I am not interested in dominating (so if there really is a culture war then I’m screwed), 4) I love people because God loves people, 5) I love people because God made them to be amazing and lovable, 6) you and I are not stuck in a transactional relationship like people play at in our society, seeking personal gain… I simply owe you love and will try to pay off that debt, 7) this is how I will try to live as a pastor, a husband, a father, a brother, a son, a cousin, an uncle, a neighbor, a friend and a human being, and 8) I recognize that I’ll surely need some grace when I fail to live up to the standards my Christ taught and modeled.
Now, enough with the declarations. It’s bedtime. Thursday is done. Peace out.