I’ve known you for years, since way back when we were young and carefree, not quite as wild as we thought we were, having grown up in small town Indiana. So…I know in my heart that you’re a good person, that you care about other people, that you wouldn’t really want to do or say something that would hurt someone else. I know this and yet there are times when I find myself not wanting to be around you, not wanting to listen to what you say as you voice your opinions in what appears to me to be a self-righteous manner.
You vociferously proclaim your Christianity and I have no doubt that you believe yourself to be a true Christian (whatever that may be). When I listen to you denigrate people who disagree with you, call them names, insult their intelligence, I find myself wondering if you really believe that’s the way to lead people to Christ, which, in my limited knowledge of what being a true Christian entails, is what I thought Christians were supposed to do. I could be wrong about that having given up on attending church, having given up on organized religion many years ago. But I think I remember enough about the teachings of Christ to understand that that is what he wants you to do. And your behavior and attitude do nothing but turn people from the very God you say you serve.
Let me give you just a little background…I stopped attending church because I couldn’t stand to see the way the leaders of the church treated one another. Sunday mornings they were all pious and devout…then on Monday night, at the church meetings, they were some of the nastiest people I’d ever encountered. They put each other down, talked trash about the kids of many of the members…were really as unChristlike as I had ever seen people be. I was upset all the time, often to the point of tears. I finally decided I didn’t need to go to church to be spiritual…that church certainly didn’t seem like a place where God would feel welcome.
So it’s possible I’m extra-sensitive to this kind of bullying behavior in church folks…but it doesn’t mean I have to willingly expose myself to it. When you start talking like this, I will walk away. For my own protection, I will not allow myself to be insulted, to be patronized, to be told that I’m stupid because I don’t believe the way that you do. I care about you, but I have to take care of myself. If that means removing you from my life, then that’s what will happen. I don’t expect you to change…I don’t even expect that you’ll see yourself in these words. I’ve noticed that most of us do not see ourselves as others see us…for better or worse.
And you could turn this back around on me and tell me that I’m being judgmental…you could quote scriptures which support your behavior. Just so you know, I don’t put a lot of stock in anyone’s ability to quote scriptures…having read the Bible, I’ve seen that it’s often contradictory and that we can all cherry-pick verses to support whatever we want at that particular moment in time. Quoting scriptures doesn’t do a lot for me…how we behave to one another is how I see Christianity on display. Do we treat one another with respect? Do we help feed the hungry and heal the sick? Do we help those who are less fortunate or do we simply pay lip service to it? Do we profess to know what God would like us to do…as long as it’s in agreement with what we were already planning to do? Do we stone the wicked women? Heap blame upon the heads of innocent children because of the actions of their parents? Do we mistreat people who are different than we are and then feel that we are justified because the Bible tells us so? Think about the words that have come out of your mouth over the past several months and then come to me and tell me that you honestly believe Jesus would have said the same things.
Am I perfect? Far from it. I’m probably one of the most imperfect people on the face of the earth. I’ve done things I regret, said things I had no business saying. I’ve hurt people. I’ve turned my back on people in need. I’ve been selfish and jealous. I have trouble with forgiveness and there have been times when my pride has been a stumbling block. Oh my goodness, I know I’m far from perfect and I realize that perfection is unattainable for me. So I even question who I am to discuss what I see as your shortcomings…and I know that I have no right to advise you on how to behave. I considered actually talking to you about all of this…but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I really was in no position to suggest how you should behave when I can’t even behave in the manner I believe I should. And you hadn’t asked for my opinion. That’s always been one of my requirements for giving advice…was I asked for it? No, no I was not. But then I thought I could write about this…express myself through the written word…not force my opinion and beliefs on you or anyone else. That’s when I decided to write this post. I don’t know if you will think this is about you and I guess that isn’t really the point any more.
What I would like to see is perhaps more intentional behavior. I would like to see us truly considering how our words and our actions impact others. Do we have to continuously prove that we are right? That we are more intelligent than others? That only our beliefs matter? Or can we accept that we are all different, with different beliefs, different lives, different ways of worshipping? And that those differences don’t make any of us bad or evil, they just make us different? Is that a possibility or am I asking the same questions that people have asked for all time? Who am I to say? Who are any of us to say?
- Church Clutter (thewritelife2.wordpress.com)
- Why We Christians Suck at Loving (theupsidedownworld.com)