September 20, 2011

The Problem With Christians by Erin

Dear Readers,
Please carefully read this essay written by one of my long time readers and addressed to Christians. When you are finished please take the time to read my thoughts at the end.
 Prayerfully yours,
 Kat
Do you ever stop to listen to yourself?

 Sometimes I wonder if my Christian friends ever actually hear themselves. Do they know how intolerant they sound? Do they know how much their words belie their stated beliefs of tolerance and love?

Let me back up. I am a product of a truly secular household. Neither of my parents had a religious background to bring to our home and so my brother and I were raised without religion. We were taught at a young age to respect the different beliefs of our friends and to understand that there is a different path for each of us. It was expected that we would explore on our own and find our paths.

This is a very different thing than being raised in a church and changing to a different church. We are not talking about doctrine, here. We are talking about fundamental beliefs. What so many of you take as obvious, we were taught nothing about. We were not raised with a belief in God or in Jesus, but we weren't raised to reject those beliefs, either. We weren't raised atheist. We were raised agnostic. We were allowed to join friends at various religious services and expected to be respectful as we heard conflicting assertions proclaimed to be the "one truth".

We quickly learned that there are many different "one truths".

For my brother, he turned away from the spiritual completely. He found the hypocrisy and self-righteousness representative of a lack of basis for any truth.

For me, I had a different journey. I have spent my entire adult life learning and questioning. Figuring out what I believe has not been easy. In this journey, I have found myself surrounded by people of religion. My friends are primarily Christian, especially since moving to this part of the country, but are of many different denominations. I am blessed to have caring friends who worry about the immortal souls of me and my children and for that I am so grateful. I have been blessed to have friends who will talk with me on many different subjects, including religion.

But... I wonder. The following are just a few of the things I've experienced or questioned as I've been on my own journey. 

Does an all-powerful, all-knowing God really care how wide the straps of my tank-tops are?

Or whether I cut my hair, color my hair, or wear make-up. Really?

Does an all-powerful, all-knowing God really love the people who attend your church more than the people who attend a different church that doesn't meet with your approval? What about the people who attend temple instead? Really?

Oh, I know you say "no, of course not, God loves all his children". But then your actions betray your beliefs to the otherwise. Many of you do believe there is a right way and a wrong way to believe in God and in Jesus. Do you not see that you're becoming elitist when you talk about "our" ways vs. "their" ways?

I hear stuff like this all the time: "Oh, the Catholics aren't Christian the way they're supposed to be." "Oh, those Mormons are a cult." "Oh, those Baptists are just weird." "Oh, the Jews are wrong." Then it is followed by, "Our church is Bible-based, the way it is supposed to be." The only problem? When I ask my friends about their own beliefs, with the exception of the Jews, they ALL say their church's doctrine is based on the Bible. Hmmm...the Bible tells you all to judge other churches and find them lacking as compared to your superior one? That is troubling.

Would Jesus have told my then 7-year old daughter that our entire family was going to burn in the fires of hell because we hadn't been baptized and didn't attend church? Really? The same man who lovingly washed the feet of a prostitute? I don't think so.

Would Jesus be impressed by funds raised for Coffee Bars and Stone-fired Pizza ovens in the name of fellowship? Video Game Consoles and Flat-Screened Televisions in the name of Youth Outreach? Really? The man who eschewed wealth? Again, I just find it find it hard to believe.

This is just a sample of the things I've heard and observed over the past 25 years, but it is representative of the basic message. Is it any wonder I'm reluctant to label myself and my beliefs? To commit to standards that are, to my observations, inconsistent when applied to self?

To be fair, not all of my friends convey such intolerance or such seeming hypocrisy.

A family that was some of our dearest friends hadn't noticed the gradual change in their church before we started talking about religion and, frankly, I started questioning some of these things aloud. They'd be going to this church for their entire marriage and it took them awhile to realize that the church no longer represented their beliefs. The pastor wanted a mega-church. They wanted a place of worship and simple fellowship. They changed churches and felt much more in sync with the mission of the church.

Another friend demonstrated amazing faith when we were discussing my lack of testimony. As she put it, her faith in Jesus allowed her to understand that their is a plan for all of us and I was living my plan. Just because she was impatient for me to be a Christian, didn't mean it was supposed to happen on her timetable. It was on God's timetable and if she truly believed that, she had to find peace in that knowledge, that faith. Her door and her heart were always open to my questions and concerns, but she never grew impatient with me. After all, a coerced testimony is no testimony at all.

I ask you all...as someone who is trying to find her way and appreciates that so much of what you say comes from your faith...do you ever hear yourselves?

Did you mean to say that?

Erin,


As a professed Bible believing Christian, I agree whole heartily with you and with the friend you speak of at the end of your essay. My family and I have this discussion all the time. And we sadly shake our head at how the attitudes of some dogmatic Christians about dress, music etc... ruin the testimony of Christians. While I do believe that God has set forth in His word, the Bible, standards for His people to live by (pertaining to worship, dress, child rearing, work ethic and on and on), He also clearly tells us that those standards, also called works, do not affect your eternal life. They are to be the result of a Christian who has chosen to live their life according to His will, not the means to having eternal life. Our choices on these issues can and will affect your relationship with Him just as the standards of any family, and the breaking thereof, affects the relationships of parents and children or husbands and wives.


However, if a person is not even sure that the Bible is the true word of God, and that person has not even made the choice to believe in Jesus and become a christian, than what good is it to tell them they have to conform to some standard. Unfortunately, this attitude among people who call themselves Christians, not only destroys the testimony of those who are living for the Lord but also creates much pain and confusion for people, like yourself, who are seeking and trying to figure it all out for themselves. I am heartbroken at what you have faced in your search. I am even more heartbroken at how these attitudes could prevent you from giving your life over to the Lord and lead to, what I believe, is an eternity of eternal suffering in a real place called Hell. I wish I could say it is uncommon. But sadly, it is not. This is the number one reason I hear for people running from God instead of enjoying the rich and beautiful relationship He has to offer.


As I said, I also agree with your friend, a very wise Christian, indeed. It is your choice. The Lord gave that to all of us. A free choice. He wants His people to come to Him out of love, not out of fear or because they were coerced. No matter how much I love you and your family and want to know that you will not just escape that suffering and, more importantly, enjoy the abundant life and relationship God has for you; it has to be your choice, in your time, or it isn't sincere and won't do any good anyway.


Just the other night, Brianna and I were having this discussion and she was moved to tears at the sadness of how many supposed Christians spend their lives walking by a set of standards and living out of fear instead of embracing the amazing beautiful love relationship that Jesus wants to have with them.


For the record, I do believe there is one true Bible. I do believe there is one true God. I do believe He has clearly outlined in the Bible His plan for one true church. As well as His desires for Baptism, Lord's supper, dress and every other facet of our lives on earth. I believe completely and whole heartily and without a doubt that He gave His inerrant word, the Bible, to be our manual for living the life His people are to live as His testimony here on earth until the time comes when He chooses to take us to Heaven for eternity, be it through death or the rapture of the saints.


I have chosen to print your article in hopes that it will speak to those Christians and help them to seek the truth of what the Lord has promised for their relationship with Him. I will be publishing this in hopes that it will show them the hurt and damage they are doing, supposedly in the name of leading souls to the Lord and building His Kingdom.


Erin, I want to thank you for your honesty and your willingness to put yourself on the line when you are already feeling so vulnerable. As I told you before, I will be praying for you faithfully and I would be honored to help you as you continue to seek the truth of it all. Most of all, I beg of you to stop looking to Christians and people for answers. We are all nothing more than sinners who make mistakes. Just because we have trusted in Jesus for forgiveness does not mean we are better than anyone else. Otherwise, we wouldn't need forgiveness at all. Instead, turn to the word of God, His Bible, and see what it says for yourself, that is where the truth lies.


Christian sisters, I implore you to consider the words here and prayerfully seek within yourself. Ask the Lord if this is the attitude you present to the world. Ask the Lord for forgiveness for those you have led astray and ask forgiveness of those you have hurt. And then fall on your knees and ask the Lord to open the door for you to reach those hearts you have injured and pray without ceasing for the Lord to give you the grace to speak to those hearts and remove the blood of their souls from your hands.


I would very strongly recommend to anyone reading this post, Christian or not, to take time to read Leslie Ludy's book Authentic Beauty. Even though, this is intended for young ladies, she does an amazing job of explaining what the Lord really intended for His relationship with those He created.


In His Name,
Kat





Erin blogs at 365 and a Wake Up where her family keeps in touch while "Superman" is away working over seas.

3 comments :

  1. I am so glad I was able to read this post. Sadly, there are times when I have a "holier than thou" attitude, and the Lord lets me know real quick what I need to do with that. Before I met the Lord I was one of those who called Christians hypocrites, but when it all came down to it, it wasn't between me and those other people, it was between me and God. The Lord has helped me over the years to stop pushing things on people. It isn't up to me to change the hearts or minds of anyone. Yes, I can pray, and yes, I can help if it's needed, but when it all comes down to it, it's all between them and God. Just the other night I sat talking to someone who is so dear to my heart, and I told him that the questions he has I can help him with, but it's just got to be between him and the Lord.
    This post was needed, so thank you to the writer for sharing her heart, and thank you Kat for posting.

    -Many Smiles!

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  2. I belong to a denomination that until a few years ago was very legalistic-but are not now. My view, since I came in as an adult, is it more about where your heart is. If you are in Christ, you will not want to wear things that would tempt others that are not as strong as they could be. We are to be modest in all we do and be in the scriptures daily-that is the most important.

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  3. Erin,

    I mentioned in my email and in this post that I am so grateful to your for sharing your journey with my readers. I continue in prayer, as I promised you.

    Readers,

    I do hope this post spoke to your hearts.

    Ashley,

    I am appreciative of your confession. I belive that all of us fall into that category at some time or another. Your humbleness in admitting it, is balm to my heart. I have no doubt the Lord is going to use your spirit to do wonderful things for His kingdom.

    And to E...

    Yes, it is ALL about where your heart is. Sadly, that is the message missed by most, even professed Christians.

    Hugs to all,

    Kat

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