By: Jana Greene
So earlier today, I couldn’t get a signal on my phone to listen to a podcast while I was running to the pharmacy, so I turned on my old gospel station that I used to listen to all the time, and a preacher was talking, as preachers do.
The message was about being able to call on God in your darkest hour; no matter how hard things were hitting the fan, which I believe and we can surely appreciate this year. I was fine with his message for a long time, until – at the conclusion – he says with a quiver in his voice – “Beloved, if you are not yet a child of God…”
It then occurred to me that THIS is why I left evangelical Christianity. In ONE sentence, “the veil was lifted,” as they are prone to say. The whole inequity of a supposed god who loves his kids, but will send them to the eternal, conscience torment if they don’t tow the line.
Christians often like to say they are accepting and tolerant of everyone, because “God loves everyone.” They share a message of love, but tend wrap it up with an ultimatum. (Even though monitoring repentance is the job of the Holy Spirit, and she doesn’t need an apprentice.)
THIS IS NOT LOVE.
It feels icky and insincere because it’s a counterfeit “love,” and the world sees right through it.
In the back of many Christian minds, there is “us” and “them.” Believers and non-believers. “Saved” and unsaved. Righteous and unrighteous. That was my thinking all my life.
In short, “Enlightened or deceived.”
Oh, the duality!
But Jesus turned all of that on its ear. The least are first. The broken are exalted. The “can’t seem to get their shit together” people were welcomed. It was upside-down hierarchy, which the self-appointed “Beloveds of his day absolutely abhorred.
It’s no wonder that Christ followers are leaving the church in droves. The message of Jesus is so radical, it’s downright offensive. The NERVE of him, including all! WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?
If you are reading this, I know the shit is hitting the fan. But you are God’s child.
I know you’ve been ostracized by the very people who purport to carry his message, but those who subscribe to the “us vs. them” mentality are just plain wrong. You are his child. He made you because he delights in you.
Salvation isn’t activated by any action on your part. I’m sorry, but you’re just not that powerful. The love of a supreme deity isn’t ours to ration or withold.
Your pedigree is magnificent!
When Jesus broke my heart for the broken, I had to deconstruct the faith I inherited and was afraid to question, and it was not always pretty. There were tears and doubting, and snotty tissues and dismantled pride.
What about all the rules? What about all the wrath and smiting? I was so well versed in regurgitating what I’d been taught, I missed the forest for the trees. Scripture is inspired by God but filtered by 2,000 years of dogma and politics, written by imperfect people.
But here is no “us” and “them.” One Love, man. And his love is so far-reaching and divine!
Beloveds, you are already his child. And there’s nothing you can do about it and no way to escape his confounding, overwhelming, grace-laden LOVE.
In my reconstructing my faith through the Spirit, I met a Jesus whose radical and scandalous love for this broken world is his actual brand. He is the Living Word. He turned the world upside down, and it wasn’t for rewarding the pious or following a set of rules. It was for the likes of me.
Because I am his child too.