I’m not one to readily break with tradition because of the trouble it tends to get me into. Yet, in spite of this trouble, it tends to happen anyway – despite everything around me that might be telling me not to buck the system. That said, here I go again. Whether I really wanted to or not because of how unpleasant it may be, something in me had to take a serious step back from the direction I’d been going and look – really look – at the way the tide’s been going in Christiandom. Based on what I’ve been seeing, I had a choice to make: go with the tide, or…not. And, for the life of me, as much as my desire is to be submissive and “obedient,” there are things I’ve been unable to stomach regarding how we, as Christians, treat people in this world. I know what “the Bible says” about homosexuality, about fornication of any kind, and a whole bunch of other things. But I also know that Jesus never made people feel slighted or ashamed because of what they’d been doing with their lives up until their encounter with Him. Yet the predominant thing the world sees of Christians is an air of elitism and entitlement that says, “Hey, you’re a bigshot Christian now, it’s okay. Go ahead and point a finger at all these evildoers and tell them, ‘I’m a Christian, and you’re going to hell because you’re not, you heathen; you’d better get right with God!’ ” It’s the very thing that drove me far from Christianity before I encountered Jesus for myself without the influence of all that noise, and, as a Christian, I still cannot find it in me to participate. In the eyes of some Christians I suppose this may make me a candidate for the scarlet letter. Well, okay then. Just give me your stupid D for Disobedient if it will shut you the flip up so you can go on with your crusade to purge the earth of the vermin (as that’s how people feel they are viewed and treated) – without me. I say to you, oh high and mighty Christian, my interest in looking to you as an example of how to live the Christian life has waned to non-existence. I’ll go back to the place I looked before I looked to you: I’ll look to Jesus. And guess what: As much as I searched the scriptures for it, I never one time saw Jesus tell people they were going to hell, and I never saw Him one time in the scriptures say, “You’d better get right with God.” His conversations and dealings with people and the things they were doing were always 2-way conversations. Both He and the person being addressed got to participate in the discussion.
To DARE to speak to someone in that “no discussion” manner only serves to do one thing, and that is to slam a door shut in a person’s face who might otherwise like to approach unto God – a door that GOD has held open for ALL to enter in!!! It more than bothers me. It INFURIATES me!! And I realize that by making these statements I run the risk of alienating myself from perhaps as much as 90% of the Christian population, perhaps more. So be it. Yes, I feel this strongly about it.
If God wanted a bunch of automatons, doesn’t it stand to reason He could create far more advanced and impressive race of automatons than man could ever even dream up??? Jesus said to keep His commandments. Well, guess what: His first and foremost commandment from which all commandments stem is to love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
If anyone will turn to God, not one thing is imposed on one single, solitary soul. Everything a person will decide to eliminate or incorporate into his or her life is a choice that he or she rightfully gets to make based on whatever influences he or she will see fit to be motivated by. God never coerces obedience: not even with the people who’ve chosen to open their hearts to a relationship with Him – and far less with those who haven’t. If they’re open to it, He may help them to see reason regarding the choices they’ve been making up to a particular point but will ultimately let the choice as to what they will do going forward be 100% up to them. Who are we mere mortals to deal with others any other way?
When I first encountered Jesus, He was showing me the choices I’d been making up to that point. I’d been functioning in those choices pretty much by rote. And He offered a different path. I chose to see what was down that path. He made it clear I didn’t have to. It just so happened I found that I wanted to. It was an open dialogue. The matters at hand were 100% open for discussion. Based on those discussions, I made choices. That’s what life is at every given moment: making choices. God is not taking this away – from anyone. Those early days when I was learning that God is a living and interactive God with whom all things are open for discussion was such a sweet time for me.
My motivation for speaking to people about Jesus is not to accumulate a bunch of numbers thus adding a bunch of proverbial jewels to some proverbial crown that may or may not be awaiting me in heaven. It’s not a numbers game for me. My motivation is toward others who, like me, might have struck up a conversation with Jesus much sooner had they known such a thing was possible, had they known that absolutely anything and everything is up for discussion. Once I discovered Jesus and His true nature, I took part in discussions about my life with an open heart actively seeking input from Him. His input was never coercive. His input was never condemning. I could feel His love and compassion – and, yes, even His respect for my right to choose – in every one of His dealings with me. My greatest fear is of robbing others of the potential to embark upon the wonder of such sweet discovery as to who Jesus is and who He might like to be to them on an individual basis. My greatest regret is the times in my own misguided zeal that I attempted to impose my own personal convictions on others who had not yet had the opportunity to discover for themselves that every choice they were faced with was open for discussion and that the choices as to what they would do with their lives going forward would absolutely be theirs to make. I owe these people a great debt I hope to be able to repay someday. It may be that I only get to repay it by paying it forward. Either way, the choice I make for my life going forward is to attempt to repay that debt I owe to others.
If you are reading this, whoever you are, whatever choices you have made up to this point about how you will live your life, whatever choices you are in the midst of making, I honor you as a human being who has a right to choose what path you will take in this life. Peace be with you.