A favorite pastime between my best friend and I is to compare the culture we were brought up in with that of the one we are currently living in. We both come from fairly liberal societies in the north and, for the time being, are stuck in an ultra-conservative society in the south. We have both grown up learning to love everyone, regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they believe or what they look like. Neither of us were brought up by atheists, Satanists or any other “heathens” most people think our parents must have been. We were both taught that God’s Word is Truth and that the Father loves the entire world enough to send His only Son so that people could believe in Him. We both have left the church in pursuits of other things at one point or another in our lives, but we both still held these things we were taught throughout our wanderings off of the path. We were both very aware that when we arrived to our school in the south that people were going to be more conservative and we would meet a considerable amount of other Christians.
We never thought we would associate Christianity with unloving.
We’ve met hundreds of people claiming to be Christians. They are militantly pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-war, anti-gay and very Republican. They only listen to music that says Jesus at least twice per song, and watch movies that have no violence, swearing, sex, and (most importantly) do not question the religion they have grown up with in even a small way. The vast majority of these people tell the world that they must be like them in order to be saved. This scares me. Not for myself, really. I’ve learned to block out a lot of things in the year that I have lived here. It scares me for the people here and those who are going to be told they’re going to hell for not believing the same way.
There’s nothing wrong with having any of those beliefs. While I don’t necessarily hold to all of them, I have no problem with others having different beliefs than I do. I do, however, have a problem with people saying that these beliefs are biblical and the same that Jesus would hold. I cannot see the justification for protesting in front of abortion clinics, yelling things like “slut,” “murderer,” and whatever else to women while claiming to be a Christian. I cannot see justification for claiming to be pro-life before birth but being anti-life by being pro-death penalty. I don’t understand how these people, who claim to be Christians can shun the homosexuals or prostitutes because they are “sinners in need of a savior,” as the prayer goes. I’m fed up with hearing that as Christians we should not be associating ourselves with these or any sinners, that we must have a great “fellowship” with other Christians who believe exactly the same way as we do, who don’t challenge us to think. That’s not what this whole Christianity thing is about.
Aren’t we supposed to love everyone, regardless of who they are? Loving those who don’t believe the same way I do makes me a non-Bible-Believing-Christian. Does being a Christian mean that I am not supposed to love everyone? If it does, I don’t want any part in this anymore.
There has to be a better way.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 22:37-40, TNIV).
Love God. Love your neighbor. That is what this thing, this belief, this faith, this life is about. Why, then, do we find it so hard to love? Why do we have such a hard time with being around those who don’t believe like we do?
I think sometimes we get so caught up in our Christian culture, we create these false images of Jesus in our minds. We see Him dressed in khakis and polo, only being around those who praise Him most, never with the broken, the losers, and the ones that society rejects. We feel that while He is too holy to be with these people, we also feel that it is our obligation to try and save them ourselves. Jesus does not want us to stand on our soapboxes, claiming hell and damnation for everyone who doesn’t agree with us, telling them they must be saved. We have thousands of tracts we could give them to solve that problem for us. Jesus does not want us to ask them if they’ve ever told a lie, thought a lustful thought, or hated someone with the air of righteousness, as if we’ve never sinned, and then tell them that liars, adulterers and murderers go to hell and they are right along with them.
Think about it. Jesus would not tell us to do things like that. God would not tell us that we are too good for others.
As North American Christians, we need to repent of making God in our own image instead of being made in His image. We need to repent of making Jesus out to be one who condemns instead of saves (John 3:16-17). We need to repent of showing the world only what we are against instead of what we are for. We need to repent of letting a beautiful faith be turned into a synonym of hate.