Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
~ Proverbs 3:5 – 6 (NIV)
‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
~ Jeremiah 29:11 – 13 (NIV)
BACK IN NOVEMBER 2011, I wrote a long column titled Showing Gratitude and Rededication (and Returning to the Church) in which I have first presented only an inkling of the pros and cons of church religious experiences I have personally encountered growing up, and that of what my family has encountered.
But in that particular column, I did not have the bare guts to fully express what 20 years of “growing up Christian” really looked like through my pair of eyes. For a long time—and I must admit, it’s been far too long—I too was caught up in trying to fit in, trying to assimilate into what I have always pictured to be the ideal church community.
And what was that picture you may ask?
In all honest retrospect, it would probably look like something out of a Sunday School lesson: Jesus is the great man-Savior who came to planet Earth to act as the substitute for humanity’s utter faults (our sins), and that if we accept his atonement, we will be granted eternal life through this one demi-god figure. In addition, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to act as the divine counselor and protector in the modern world today.
Now, to clarify what I have meant when I previously wrote:
I recognized, late on Saturday night, that I was still as stubborn and selfish in my ways as before—that I still deeply despised the Church and the creeds for which it has stood for, and more importantly, that I still let the deeply scarring wounds of my family’s past experiences with the Church continue to haunt me, in the form of open wounds, wounds that I have to continued to let open time and time again, so that even I will never forget the pain…
No, I do not hate Jesus or God the Father or the Holy Trinity.
I hate the narrow-minded structure of human-made and human-operated churches. What I hated was the judging and the criticizing and the “holier-than-thou” self-righteousness stance other members tried to impose on my family over the years as we hopped around various churches, and as I gradually became aware of this great flaw in the system, I also made up my mind. Enough was enough.
If anyone in my family, my beautifully fractured family was to be treated this way, I will not have it or stand it any longer. So I vowed to leave these churches—eventually culminating into an idea that encompassed all churches—never to set foot in any of them ever again.
Until the moments I would see the flaws in me as well…
My initial “hatred” of these so-called institutions did not settle too well with many of my practicing Christian high school classmates and friends, teachers, and eventually even my own parents, whom I have believed as a younger teen that I was defending their honor in “desecrating” and exposing the criticisms of the very people who have hurt them.
That is, until I realized I had become the very hypocrite I believed I was on a destined mission to topple and defeat.
In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
As Siddhartha Guatama had once awakened his own inner Buddha, I have been continuously re-examining my own views of the Christianity I once literally grew up with versus a Christianity that the rest of the known world observes from an outsider’s perspective.
And now as a college sophomore, I can most assuredly say I will continue to accept that fundamental creed that Jesus is Lord of all humankind while alternatively rejecting and reforming other “creeds” political conservatives have been preaching to the masses since only God knows when, and brainwashing them into accepting their way of thinking and their way of life.
First of all, I clearly do not believe Jesus advocated the right for the average person to freely carry firearms in the public square as he or she pleases. Nor do I accept that Jesus stood for any particular social class or ethnic group.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
~ Galatians 3:26 – 28 (NIV)
Jesus did not stand for any particular political party or social issue, other than helping the poor, needy and downtrodden.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
~ Matthew 25:35 – 36; Matthew 25:44 – 45 (NIV)
As illustrated in the famous Good Samaritan parable or The Samaritan Woman at the Well, Christ wants all to come to him in awe, reverence and humbleness. And he who ever takes up his cross and follows him will gain eternal life.
This gift of a spiritual ever-lasting salvation is available to ALL PEOPLE, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
And yes, I will clearly advocate right here and right now that Jesus loves homosexuals as much as heterosexuals, regardless of whatever the Christian Right loudly screams in your ears.
I may attempt to cover various Christian and non-Christian views on homosexuality and “the church” in further investigative detail in a later column.
But for now I would like to say, through my experiences as a believer looking from within and outside the box that represents the broad spectrum of modern American Christianity in the 21st century, I can now say and believe with the utmost confidence that God Almighty does indeed unconditionally love every person on this planet, including those souls in the afterlife, and like that Jay Park single, He seriously wants to know your name.
He respects all your opinions and beliefs, and will not hold fast to your will or your decision-making.
Only let thy Kingdom come and thy will be done, on Earth as in Heaven.
I’ll see you all again later this month. God bless and take care. 🙂