Lately I have been struggling with Christianity. Not the Christ part so much as the “Christian” part. Just this past week I saw two friends post similar things on Facebook, both referring to the fact that they hope that people don’t judge them and their faith based on the actions of other people who also claim to be Christian.
A few weeks ago at church I choked up as we sang the words to “They Will Know That We Are Christians By Our Love“.
“We will work with each other, we will work side-by-side,
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Oh, how I want to sing that with conviction.
Oh, how I want Christians to be known by our love.
Oh, how I want to be known by the love that I share.
I saw a tee shirt recently that read, “Lord, Save me from your followers”* and it cut me.
It cut deeply.
Mostly because it hit close to home.
And because I know the sentiment all too well.
Then I read this by Amber at The Run-a-Muck. And I came back and read it again later. And then I came back and read it again. Four times I clicked over there and read her words, felt her words, surrounded myself with what she was saying. And I was reminded that the holy spirit didn’t stop inspiring words once the bible was written.
Amber so often bears her soul, vividly and honestly sharing with others what she has learned, what she is feeling, what God is doing in her life. She tells her story about being a guest at a mosque, something so different from her norm…yet similar in so many ways. As they are called to prayer, she says, “I had to breathe funny not to cry, not to feel overwhelming pain and honor and shame all at once.”
And that? That is where I am. That is who I am. I want so badly, so very, very badly to love my faith with reckless abandon…but I can’t. I am held back, reserved because of overwhelming pain and shame. I don’t want to be ashamed. I am not ashamed of my beliefs. I am not ashamed of what it really means to be a Christian. I am ashamed of what being a Christian has come to mean to so many outside the walls of the churches.
But mostly? I am ashamed of myself. I yearn for change within the Christian church. I long for unity with other religions and beliefs. And yet? Like a middle schooler who watches another girl get picked on and does nothing to stop it…I watch. And I grumble under my breath. And I say that I don’t want to cause a stir. And while waiting and watching, I stand idly by and see person after person driven away from the church(and by the church I mean as a whole, not my own personal church), and I say, “It sure is a pity that other people have run them off. I’m glad I’m not like them.”
But I am.
By saying nothing, I am.
Christ stood up for others.
Christ consistently strove for unity and peace.
Christ celebrated differences while bringing people together.
(Just look at the disciples…what a motley crew they were!)
We’re not all the same, but that’s supposed to be the beauty of Christianity.
By definition, we’re supposed to love the differences because we are supposed to be like Christ,
who loved no matter what.
I, like so many, yearn for tradition and a sense of belonging.
And frequently in my desire to find that belonging,
I alienate anyone and anything different from me, from my beliefs.
But I’m supposed to love no matter what.
I am not a perfect Christian.
I am not perfect in anyway.
But I strive, oh how I strive, to block out the noise…
To clear my mind…
To ask myself:
Am I doing what I should be?
What do I need to change?
How can I show love-true, unblemished, Godly love-to others?
I can’t do it on my own,
I know that much is true.
Oh God and Creator,
I want to be more.
I want to show more of your love.
I want to be more of your love.
I want to share more of your love.
I want to be more.
Help me to be more…
(even when I don’t want to)
(especially when I don’t want to).
*I later found out that there is also a book by this title. I haven’t read it.